10.10.2012

Season for Squash

 
I never liked squash as a child. My mom tried to feed it to me and I wanted nothing to do with it. I remember her roasting it in the oven, sprinkling a little brown sugar on the top and eating out of it like it was an ice cream bowl. But as an adult, I make an effort to try things that I thought I did not like. I will try anything once (again as an adult).  

I now absolutely love squash, butternut being my favorite with acorn being a close second. Squash is in season and very reasonably priced, so it is a great time to revisit it, if you have not had it in a while.

Here are some basics about the different types of squash, left to right in the picture.

Spaghetti:  The name comes from the stringy flesh that looks like spaghetti once it is cooked. You can easily substitute pasta noodles with those from the spaghetti sauce. It does very well with marinara sauce and other veggies you would put into a pasta dish.

Acorn:  sweet, buttery, yellow-orange flesh that can be blended with many different seasonal favorites, like pears and parsnips.

Butternut:  One of the basics, great choice for a first timer. Very close in flavor to sweet potatoes and has a very similar color flesh. Can be both savory (roasted with rosemary and thyme) and sweet (roasted with cinnamon and brown sugar).  Makes an excellent soup!

All squash have many health benefits, especially vitamin A, fiber and vitamin C. For very low calories and fat, you can get an abundance of health benefits for your eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

So how do you select the perfect squash?  Well the heavier and smaller the squash, usually it is more flavorful and the flesh is tastier. Try to find one with minimal cracks or soft areas (which could indicate bruising) and make sure the coloring is rich and vibrant. I recommend also looking for a matte finish on the squash, this is an indication it was harvested at the perfect time.

If you have leftover squash, just freeze it. If it is roasted, place in a freezer bag and use it later (will keep for up to 1 year). You can also puree it and keep it for a hearty soup during the winter.

Here is a great recipe to try for a seasonal squash dinner (this is one of my favorites, and I like to add about a teaspoon of cinnamon to it). If you cannot find all the different kinds of squash, you can substitute sweet potatoes.

Herb-Roasted Squash
Serves 16 (3/4 cup each) | Source: 
All you need:
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 buttercup squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 c. Grand Selections olive oil
2 tbsp Grand Selections balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp Hy-Vee dried parsley
2 tsp Hy-Vee salt
1 tsp Hy-Vee black pepper
3/4 tsp Hy-Vee rosemary
3/4 tsp Hy-Vee thyme
pine nuts, optional
All you do:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line an 11-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place squash cubes in a large bowl. Set aside.
Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper, rosemary and thyme. Pour over squash and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until squash is tender and golden brown. Garnish with pine nuts, if desired.
Daily nutritional values:
90% vitamin A
15% vitamin C
4% calcium
4% iron
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 100
Carbohydrate: 10g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Dietary Fiber: 3g
Fat: 7g
Protein: 1g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Sodium: 350mg
Sugar: 2g
Trans fats: 0g