Sadly, summer squash is almost finished in the fields. Don’t despair, we are harvesting loads of our regular, and one or two new varieties of winter squash. We get lots of questions about our winter squash: how to cook them, how to cut them and how and where to store them. So before I get to the recipe of the week, here is some great information I found from Colorado State University. (Source)
Begin your squash journey by selecting a winter variety currently in season, including butternut, acorn, hubbard, spaghetti, delicata and pumpkin. These differ from summer squash (such as crookneck and zucchini) which are eaten before their rind hardens. Winter squash are harvested when the fruit inside matures and the seeds are large and plump.
Select squash that are firm, heavy for their size, dull (not glossy) and free of soft spots or cracks. Once home, squash can sit at room temperature for 10-20 days, but can be stored in a cooler, dry place for up to 6 months, then washed right before being prepared for savoring. Cutting a winter squash can be a challenge, and is the reason most often given by people who do not cook them at home. To simplify this task, poke holes in the squash with a knife and microwave it for up to 5 minutes. Then try cutting it the hard rind will be softened. Cut it in half and remove all the seeds and fibers.
Be sure to keep the seeds! Having to separate and wash the seeds adds a step, but one that is well worth it. Rinse seeds with water, pat them dry, and combine 1 cup with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread out this mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 275 degrees. Once cool, both children and adults will love snacking on these.
Once seeds and pulp are removed, squash halves can be placed face down with about 1/4 inch water in a baking pan and baked, broiled or microwaved. Once cooked, cut the flesh away from the skin in bite-size pieces or scoop it out with a spoon. Then the fun begins.
-Acorn squash has a slightly sweet flavor that combines well with maple syrup and chopped walnuts.
-Butternut squash, with its slight nutty flavor, is a favorite for creamy soup. Just blend pieces with broth and onions along with spices. You can be creative and use spices ranging from curry powder to nutmeg for a variety of tastes.
-Spaghetti squash has a mild flavor and a crunchy texture, making it a perfect substitute for spaghetti topped with marinara sauce.
-Pumpkin pulp is easy to puree and add to pancakes and muffins.
-Hubbard and delicata are tasty drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Did I mention squash is nutritious? One cup of cooked winter squash has more potassium than a banana, more vitamin C than a tomato, more fiber than an apple, and as much vitamin A as a serving of carrots. Now that’s a super food!
Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes and Onions
- 2 Cups Butternut Squash, cut in 1 inch cubes (about 1 medium butternut squash)
- 2 Cups Sweet Potatoes, cut in 1 inch cubes (about 2 medium potatoes) *
- 1 Medium to large red onion, quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 Tsp Fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 400 °.
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the olive oil. Add enough olive oil to coat the squash, sweet potatoes and onions. Mix well.
- Pour into a 9 X 13 casserole dish in a single layer.**
- Cook for 10 – 15 minutes and stir.
- Cook until butternut squash and potatoes are tender.
- Toss with thyme and serve
* I used white sweet potatoes because I like the creamy texture of a white sweet potato and the color it adds to the dish.
** If you prefer more caramelization use a baking sheet to avoid any steaming that occurs when using a baking dish with higher sides.
And lastly, here’s a Cheat Sheet written by our friends at Modern Reston.