The air is crisp in the Northeast and fall vegetables are hitting the markets. In particular beautiful multi-color and shaped winter squash are making their first appearances. Butternut, delicata, carnival and acorn are on the stands.
Squash can range in size from very small to the great pumpkin …
.. and in between like this giant Blue Hubbard I picked up this past weekend from Mobius Fields Farm. (I’m still contemplating what to do with it!)
A few weeks ago I did a quick recipe using kabocha squash, making a soup. Soups are just about the easiest way to use your squash. Each really does have a slightly different taste, and some even a different textures.
Like the spaghetti variety … here is a fun take on spaghetti and meatballs, but without the pasta.
Squash is an ingredient that dates back thousands of years. Archeologists found stems, skins, and seeds of squashes in Mexico dating between 7,000 and 5,000 BCE. From most accounts the Pilgrims encountered squash when they arrived, but were somewhat unimpressed. It took some time for them to start using this versatile ingredient. Lucky for us in the end because each has a slightly different taste and texture.
For today I’m focusing on the delicata variety. Nutritionally delicata squash is a great source vitamin A, C and Iron, and is low in calories and contains no fat. It’s a very healthy vegetable indeed. Look for delicatas that have a firm, deep-colored rind, free of bruises or soft moldy spots. The firm skin protects the squash and allows it to store longer than summer squash. Delicata tends to have a slightly thinner skin than some of the others, so barely detectable when cooked. Meaning there is no need to peel it. (Technically you can eat the skin on any squash, but generally it’s tough and doesn’t soften when cooked.)
Once you get the squash home keep it in a cool, preferably dark, well-ventilated area for up to one month. If you cut into it be sure to wrap the unused pieces in a zip lock bag and refrigerate up to five days. Or freeze for longer storage.
Taste-wise delicata has a mild flavor and not as sweet at kabocha or butternut. A typical way of cooking it is to roast in the oven. It’s also delicious steamed or pureed. It holds it’s shape during roasting so a perfect vegetable to stuff with your favorite grain or protein.
I had a bunch of kale on hand and a little leftover quinoa and thought I would try to combine them all together. The result was amazing. I used Madras curry powder as the seasoning and with a little lime juice and toasted coconut, the dish came together. I had a bunch of kale on hand and a little leftover quinoa and thought I would try to combine them all together. The result was amazing. I used Madras curry powder as the seasoning and with a little lime juice and toasted coconut, the dish came together. (To make life easy I simply added the kale right to the baking sheet and roasted it for the last five minutes the squash cooked. One pan is always a plus!)
Squash is bursting right now at the farmers market and at your local grocery store. The next time you see the display pick one up. It’s truly one of the most versatile ingredients you can use.