I think that one of my favorite vegetables to grow is the squash.
They're easy to grow (if you've got the space)
They keep right through the winter and into spring (we just keep them in a box under the spare bed).
They taste great with loads of ways of cooking them.
They look great with hundreds of different colours and varieties. This year I grew lots of different types (can't figure out which is which now though!) and although they're a little small we had quite a good harvest from them.
I can see why they were such a staple in the past.