Julia's Kitchen

Nourish your body, feed your soul.

Squash Time October 25, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — adaba @ 3:16 pm

It is that time of year, when Winter squash is in abundance. I’ve received a different squash in each of my last 4 weekly CSA shares and I suspect that trend will continue until the end of the season. As I was storing the leftover squash (I am not even sure of the variety) from a special order pumpkin torte with coconut cream frosting (yum), it occurred to me that now is a great time for a post on all things squash. In case you are looking for ideas on how to use this nutritious and delicious seasonal staple, read on…

  • You can certainly use pie pumpkins for pie and butternut squash for soup; some varieties are better suited to particular uses, but don’t get too caught up. The different types of squash are actually quite interchangeable. There are differences in flavors and moisture levels, but given the varieties that are most widely available, I generally find that it just takes a few adjustments to use whatever squash you have on hand in whatever recipe you are in the mood to make. Don’t limit yourself!
  • In my opinion, a lot of recipes make squash preparation a little more daunting than it needs to be. The simplest way to cook squash is to pop it in the oven when you have other things baking or roasting. Be sure to slash it a few times with a knife to create some space for the steam to escape as it cooks (because an exploding squash does make the task daunting:) and put it in the oven on a pan or tray to catch the juices. It does best at a pretty high temp, but I think you are fine anywhere between 375 and 425 degrees. Alternatively, you can slice squash in half and remove the seeds, then dice and coat the pieces in olive oil sprinkled with salt and roast the pieces until they are nicely caramelized. Personally, I like the depth of flavor that roasting/baking creates and I don’t like to steam or boil squash.
  • It’s very rare that peeling squash is necessary. If I roast a whole squash, I remove the seeds, cool it, and then puree it (including the skin) in my Vitamix. Depending on the moisture level of the squash, I might add a bit of water to help it process. DO BE SURE TO REMOVE THE TOP AND BOTTOM STEMS. If I’m not going to use it all, I put the extra in jars and freeze them for later use. If I’m dicing it, I use all except the seeds and stem.
  • If you remove the seeds before cooking the squash, you can soak them overnight then sprout them before you salt and roast them for snacking.
  • Recipe ideas…
    • puree a medium-sized (2-3lbs) squash with 1/2 box of creamed coconut, 1 cup or so of caramelized onions (I like to keep these on hand, but otherwise caramelize 2 medium onions in olive oil and salt), a few cloves of roasted garlic, a touch of curry powder (this is for depth of flavor; add more if you like a stronger curry flavor), water or broth to taste, and salt for a super easy and delicious Fall or Winter soup.
    • replace the creamed coconut with about 2-3 cups of cooked red lentils and the curry with Berbere spice. Add sliced celery and chopped kale and cabbage to a pot along with the squash-lentil-veggie purée, then simmer until the veggies are soft.
    • use caramelized squash cubes like croutons on top of a salad, thick soup like black bean, split pea, or red lentil, or chili.
    • Of course pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin roulades, pumpkin muffins, etc.
    • Stuffed squash – yum! An excellent use for leftovers! Cook some veggies (onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, kale, or whatever your pleasure) and stir them into cooked rice, quinoa, or millet. Stuff filling into a squash that’s been halved, seeded slathered in olive oil and roasted; and then bake the whole thing in the oven until everything is nicely warmed through. Top with caramelized onions, cooked beans for protein, and/or a delicious sauce like sprouted tahini sauce…
    • Spaghetti squash is kind of its own thing – this one I don’t use interchangeably. I roast it whole until it’s soft and I can scoop out and separate the strands easily with a fork. My dog gets the skin; see below. I toss the strands in olive oil and salt, then set them aside while I saute some onions, shallots, or leeks and garlic and add salted water to make a broth. Once the broth has been on a high simmer for about 15 minutes, I add the squash “noodles”. I might have a bowl right away, but I like it better the next day after the flavors have integrated.
    • Dogs LOVE cooked Winter squash (in my experience), and it’s good for them. If I have a really thick-skinned squash like acorn, I’ll scoop out the flesh after cooking (leaving some on the skin for her) and my dog will very happily take care of it for me.

Happy cooking! What is your fav squash recipe??


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