Food Friday: Autumn Squash

Like comfort food ? Squash is a healthy choice. 

When made correctly, squash is rich, velvety and filling. it can be sweet or savory. It is low glycemic and nutrient rich. Squash keep well. I keep mine right on the stone floor of my kitchen. I think they look pretty. 

It takes some doing to safely open squash. After all, they are made to withstand winter to deliver their seeds into the spring. When you are opening harder squash, be careful. Use a sharp knife, perhaps a mallet, a stable surface and good technique. A good idea is to carefully “set" your knife into the skin, then use the mallet, perhaps over a towel, to tap the knife into hard thick rind. Oftentimes if it opens a little you can crack it the rest of the way with a little leverage. 

Squash can be baked, roasted or steamed. It depends on your constitution and your taste. 

If you have time and little motivation, simply scoop out the seeds and bake the halves as is. This would be in a medium oven ( 350 degrees F) until soft. 

If you have less time and more patience, cut the squash into smaller pieces and perhaps get rid of the skin by either carving it off or scooping the meat out. Then roast on a pan at about 425 until carmelized. 

When you bake or roast, use olive oil, coconut oil, or butter onto squash before you cook. You may also salt and pepper in the beginning. If you want to add a little brown sugar, do it after the squash is mainly cooked and turn down the temp to at least 350 or lower since sugar burns easily. Watch it carefully until the sugar is melted but not burned. I line all pans with parchment paper to make for easy clean up. 

Roasted or baked squash can then be eaten as is, or blended with toasted nuts, craisins, or other dried fruit, diced fresh fruit like apples, and then rebaked slowly. It can be made into soup or blended into a dish like mashed potatoes. 

If you have little time, cube the squash into 1-2 inch pieces and steam it until tender. It will cook quickly, but have a less roasted earthy flavor. You may then use it any way. 

All squash, regardless or size or coloration, are members of the same family, curcurbitae. This is remarkable when you consider all the different flavors. Some of the meat is bright yellow, and makes “ spaghetti squash” fit for a marinara sauce. Some is deep red and full of vitamin A, and other flesh is sweet, orange and suitable for making pie: pumpkin pie ! My favorite is the humble butternut, simply because of it’s wonderful taste. And since I have neither time nor patience, I pick the longest thinnest ones I can find and slice them into big “coins”  about 3/4 inch think. I then roast them with bittern a pan with parchment and let people peel of the skins themselves. 

Enjoy the hearty food of fall !