Unlike summer squash, which is harvested young and has a thin edible skin, winter squash is ripened on the vine and develops a thick hard rind. This thick outer shell makes it great for keeping through the winter — most varieties can be stored for at least a month at room temperature, or even longer in a cool dry cellar.
There are many different types of winter squash, but most of them have a similar mild sweet flavor, and they can usually be interchanged in recipes. Winter squash has lots of vitamin A and potassium, and is high in fiber. It can be boiled, steamed, or baked… or try this this recipe for Autumn Minestrone on Epicurious.