By Leslie Kelly

Nothing says autumn like squash and apples - but we like it with a grown-up twist. We paired the flavors of squash with hard apple cider, the trendiest beverage of the season. Hard cider's easy-drinking tartness makes it a perfect for pairing - and there's a range of flavors available, from European dry-style to ciders that feature exotic infusions.

Here's your guide to the pairing hottest tastes of the season, by cooking top-rated squash recipes with a perfect cider match.

1) Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

This low-carb version of the Asian classic gets bonus points for looking beautiful, too. The chopped zucchini means double the squash fun. Serve sriracha sauce on the side to turn up the heat.

Sipping suggestion: Play up the vibrant flavors of the Pad Thai by looking for a cider infused with ginger, such as Locust's Thai Ginger.

2) Butternut Squash Ravioli

Chef John gives this recipe a delicious short-cut by stuffing the seasoned squash into won ton wrappers you can buy at the supermarket. The mascarpone cheese makes it ultra-rich; to balance that, garnish the dish with some chopped sage.

Sipping suggestion: A sophisticated dish like this craves the complexity of a cider like The Old Fashioned from Angry Orchard. This gem's aged in staves of old bourbon barrels, which adds depth and warm spices.

Photo by Cheech

3) Delicata Squash Burgers

This just might be the coolest veggie burger you've ever tried. Sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, and a bit of Parmesan cheese mix well with the baked Delicata, bound together by just enough bread crumbs. So, so good.

Sipping suggestion: Newton's Folly Granny Smith from Trader Joe's has the right amount of bite to further elevate the savory character of the burger.

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

4) Claire's Curried Butternut Squash Soup

A wonderful first course, or add a salad (see below) for the full meal deal. This vegan creation gets its creamy quality from coconut milk.

Sipping suggestion: Crispin's Honey Crisp is so good on its own, leaning toward the sweeter side. Yet, when paired with an assertively seasoned curry, that sticky honey flavor offers just the right counterpoint to the heat generated by the spice.

Photo by Leslie Kelly

5) Roasted Acorn Squash Salad

Roasted squash is awesome on its own, but makes a fab addition to so many dishes. Try tossing it with arugula, avocado, and pomegranate seeds, and you'll never look at salad quite the same way.

Sipping suggestion: Anthem's apple cider spends a little time fermenting with hops. Miraculously, it doesn't come off like a cider trying to taste like an IPA, but the earthy flavor that comes from the co-mingling gives it the kind of complex quality that might make your mouth wonder: How'd they do that?

Photo by Kevin J. Flynn

6) Butternut Squash Wild Rice Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms

Risotto is magnificent as a primi or a side, even if it takes a bit of effort to make. (You don't really need to stir it constantly, just make sure the rice doesn't dry out during the cooking process.) Add squash, 'shrooms, and the wild card of wild rice, and the meatless version easily makes the leap to main course.

Sipping suggestion: Stella Artois' Cidre is easy to dismiss because it's made by a beverage giant, but this sparkler is pretty charming, dancing that fine conga line between fruity and tart. Those qualities cut through the creaminess of the risotto, turning up the volume on the chunks of butternut squash. Bravo!

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