The Versatility of Squash

Squash tastes delicious in everything from soups and side dishes to cakes and breads. There’s never a reason for squash of any kind to go to waste.


| Fall 2012



Squash varieties

Summer and winter squashes are so versatile that each really can be considered a year-round staple in your kitchen.

Photo courtesy of www.RareSeeds.com

I have a love-hate relationship with squash. I love it for its amazing versatility in the kitchen and its sheer abundance in the garden that invites endless experimentation, yet I hate it because despite my efforts year after year, I haven’t managed to successfully grow it in my midwestern garden (thanks to bugs, borers, excessive heat and drought). So, every year when squash season arrives — early summer through late fall — I support my local (more skilled) gardeners and farmers and buy squash by the armful. From soups and side dishes to cakes and breads, squash lends itself to all of them, so there’s never a reason for squash of any kind to go to waste. 

Similarly to corn, early squash was quite different than the kind we consume today. Cultivated by Native Americans, squash was prized for its seeds since it didn’t have much flesh — the little flesh it did have was bitter and unpalatable. As it continued to be cultivated and introduced throughout the New World, varieties were developed to have sweet-tasting flesh and an abundance of it. Christopher Columbus brought squash back to Europe and it continued to make its way into the world via Spanish and Portugese explorers.

Summer squash which includes zucchini, yellow, scallop, and patty-pan types are still abundant in early fall in most parts of the country. With their creamy flesh, they make an excellent base for soups (no cream required) or an addition to bread recipes. Winter squash, just coming on in early fall, includes pumpkin, acorn, butternut, delicata and dumpling, Hubbard, and other types like spaghetti and buttercup. Loaded with carotenoids and antioxidants, winter squash truly is a superfood. Winter squash can be incorporated into endless dishes to add bulk, flavor, and moistening properties; it’s so versatile that it really can be considered a year-round staple.

Cooking

The flavor of winter squash is best brought out by the high heat of baking or sauteing; however, it can be steamed too. Here are some tips for preparation:

Bake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place 1/2" water in a baking dish and add the squash, cut-side down. Cover with foil. Begin checking for doneness after 30 minutes. Bake up to 1 hour.

Saute: More labor intensive than baking, slice the squash into manageable pieces, then peel it by cutting away large sections of rind with a sharp knife. Cut the flesh into 1" cubes, toss with olive oil or butter, and saute over medium-high heat for 20 minutes or until tender.

janis
11/23/2017 7:38:33 AM

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup Butternut squash and Granny smith apples combine with a touch of pumpkin pie spice for an autumn-inspired soup that's good as a stand-alone meal or as a precursor to your dinner. Top off each serving of Butternut Squash-Apple Soup with a dollop of sour cream. Yield: Serves 8 Cook time:2 Hours Prep time:25 Minutes Ingredients 2 butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed (about 3 1/2 lb. total) Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups) 2 Granny Smith apples 3 cloves garlic, chopped 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 1 cup half & half (fat free) 8 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 375ºF; line a large baking sheet with foil. Place squash cut sides up on sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with foil. Roast until soft, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then scoop out flesh with a large spoon. Discard skins. 2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes. Do not allow onions to brown. Peel, core and roughly chop apples. When onion is soft, add garlic and chopped apples to pot and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add pumpkin pie spice; stir for 1 minute. Stir in squash and broth; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until apples are completely soft, 25 minutes. 3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Return soup to pot and place over low heat to keep warm. Stir in half & half, keep warm until served. 4. Divide soup among 8 bowls, drop a dollop of sour cream in the middle of each and serve immediately.


jandor9
11/23/2017 7:38:31 AM

ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!! PUMPKIN APPLE DAPPLE CAKE Cinnamon rings loud and clear in this moist, easy-to-assemble cake. Make Ahead: The cake can be stored, covered, for up to 4 days. SERVINGS: 12-16 (1- 9"X13" or 2- 8" round pans) INGREDIENTS FOR THE CAKE 3 cups flour 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 3 large eggs 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1 cup pure pumpkin puree 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups peeled, coarsely chopped apples 1 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts FOR THE GLAZE 1 cup sugar 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 1/4 cup buttermilk, whole milk or low-fat milk 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1-2 tablespoons reduced apple cider DIRECTIONS For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch or 2-8 inch round pans, preferably with tall sides. Whisk together the flour, sugar, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, baking soda and the salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Whisk the eggs in a large liquid measuring cup until lightly beaten, then add the oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract, stirring to incorporate. Pour into the flour mixture’s well and stir until there is no trace of dry ingredients left. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon over the apples, then stir them and the pecans into the cake batter. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake (middle rack) for about 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the sugar, butter and buttermilk or milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add reduced apple cider. Bring to a boil, and then cook for 1 minute, to form a thickened glaze. Whisk in the cinnamon until well incorporated. Remove from the heat. Let the glaze cool for a minute or so, then drizzle it over the still-warm cake (in its pan). Wait until the glaze has cooled and set before serving.


jandor9
11/23/2017 7:30:10 AM

ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!! PUMPKIN APPLE DAPPLE CAKE Cinnamon rings loud and clear in this moist, easy-to-assemble cake. Make Ahead: The cake can be stored, covered, for up to 4 days. SERVINGS: 12-16 (1- 9"X13" or 2- 8" round pans) INGREDIENTS FOR THE CAKE 3 cups flour 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 3 large eggs 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1 cup pure pumpkin puree 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups peeled, coarsely chopped apples 1 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts FOR THE GLAZE 1 cup sugar 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 1/4 cup buttermilk, whole milk or low-fat milk 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1-2 tablespoons reduced apple cider DIRECTIONS For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch or 2-8 inch round pans, preferably with tall sides. Whisk together the flour, sugar, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, baking soda and the salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Whisk the eggs in a large liquid measuring cup until lightly beaten, then add the oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract, stirring to incorporate. Pour into the flour mixture’s well and stir until there is no trace of dry ingredients left. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon over the apples, then stir them and the pecans into the cake batter. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake (middle rack) for about 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the sugar, butter and buttermilk or milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add reduced apple cider. Bring to a boil, and then cook for 1 minute, to form a thickened glaze. Whisk in the cinnamon until well incorporated. Remove from the heat. Let the glaze cool for a minute or so, then drizzle it over the still-warm cake (in its pan). Will pool in bottom of pan. Wait until the glaze has cooled and set before serving. Best after a few hours as glaze is absorbed.






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