Well, we’re down to the last 4 weeks of market for both Painesville and Willoughby, and while some crops of summer are dwindling, there are fall crops coming on to take their place. One of those crops is winter squash so I thought a few techniques and recipes would be in order.
Winter squash, as opposed to summer squash, has a hard, inedible shell (one exception that you’ll read about below) and keeps for months if stored properly. It’s that hard shell that can prove daunting to the novice squash-eater………..how the heck do you cut it?! I think the first time I ever bought a very large spaghetti squash I used a small hatchet !
Not all squash are large and unwieldy and there are ways to get them to give up the good stuff inside. If you have a very large squash you can put it inside a plastic bag and drop it on a hard surface, like concrete, to break it open. However, most squashes available are of a manageable size with many new varieties coming in smaller packages, perfect for single servings or two people. Below are some ways to prepare squash……………………………………………………….
Many recipes begin with cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and baking them cut side down until soft. I’ve done this and it works fine but last year a grower friend of mine told me she puts them in the oven whole with a few holes pierced through the skin and roasts them until they’re soft. This method results in less clean-up of the baking dish which merits points in my book. Allow it to cool, cut in half (much easier now with softer skin), scoop out seeds and eat the flesh. Condiments that compliment squash include butter, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, curry, cumin.
Speaking of the seeds…….if you like roasted pumpkin seeds then you will love roasted squash seeds!
While researching squash, I learned that the skin of Delicata squash is edible and found this cooking method……………………………….
Cut the ends off and then cut into rings, about ½ thick. Core out any seeds from the center of the rings and fry in some butter until golden brown on both sides. The second time I made it I added some spice to the rings with curry and cumin. This is my new favorite way to enjoy squash so I may be hoarding the Delicatas we grew J
I picked up a few tips from market-goers such as microwaving a butternut squash for a few minutes to soften the skin, making it easier to peel before cooking to make soup. Below are 2 soup recipes from my Saturday morning foodie friends, Shari and Kim, one for squash and one for sweet potatoes, also in season now.
Curry Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
1 onion, minced
1 tsp. butter or oil
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 tsp. curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Peel and cut squash into chunks. In water, boil squash and onion about 25 minutes. Put through blender and puree. Put back on stove and add remaining ingredients. Simmer until heated through.
(I learned a helpful hint last year, after nearly taking off a couple of fingers trying to cut the stupid squash. Microwave the whole squash for 2-3 minutes. It’s then softer to peel and cut.) J I also use an immersion blender vs. transferring the hot soup to a blender.) The soup is delicious, and I’d say close to fat-free.
Curried Sweet Potato Soup
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 pieces (I used half butternut squash and 1/2 sweet potatoes)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic (I use more)
1/2 C celery, chopped
2 t curry powder
1 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 C honey
1 C milk or cream (I used fat free skim)
Sweat onions, celery and garlic for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stir for 2 minutes. Add spices and honey and toast for 1 minute. Add broth and simmer for 20 mins or till the potatoes are very tender.
Let cool 10 minutes and puree in blender or food processor (I use an immersion blender – it blends right in the pot). Re-warm and stir in milk. Enjoy!
A friend made a very tasty casserole for a recent gathering that was simply roasted squash scooped out and mashed with sour cream, onion, salt, pepper and paprika, then baked.
The flesh of this squash is different from the others, stringy like spaghetti after it’s cooked.
Here’s a link to a website that demonstrates cutting and preparing squash as well as some recipes.
I also learned that roasted squash freezes nicely so if you like it and you’re going to roast one it seems to make sense to roast several and freeze for use later.
By Maggie Fusco
The Wood Road Salad Farm
Maggie Fusco and Justin Kopczak have been happily married and growing great produce since 2002. While we are not certified organic we use all natural fertilizers, our produce is pesticide-free, and harvested within 24 hours of coming to market. We called our farm a “salad” farm because in the beginning we grew mostly lettuces and greens but then one crop led to another, and every season became a new adventure in growing!