Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Subtle sweetness of winter squash...A fall treat

If you are a pumpkin pie lover, don’t miss the opportunity to taste other types of winter squash this season. While pumpkin is the most popular, other varieties have a subtle sweetness that pleases even fussy eaters. Acorn, Spaghetti, Butternut, Blue Hokkaido, Hubbard, Kobocha, and Delicata are types that grow well in the High Country and are abundant at farmers’ markets.
Go ahead and buy more than you can eat. Winter squash may last up to three months if stored in a cool, dry place.   
Like other orange colored vegetables, it’s an incredible source of beta-carotene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. Most kids enjoy this great source of vitamin C, known to boost the immune system and help protect them from fall pathogens.
For safety, scrub squash with a vegetable brush under running water just before cutting. Upper body strength and a very sharp knife are assets. A vegetable peeler makes removing the skin easier.

This acorn squash recipe is the easiest, fastest way that I’ve found to prepare winter squash. No peeling required.

Baked acorn squash
1 acorn squash for 2 people
1 tablespoon butter

After scrubbing with a vegetable brush, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place ½ tablespoon of butter in the concave of each squash half. Place in a ceramic baking dish with a lid. Add ¼ inch water to the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle each squash half with cinnamon and cover with lid. Microwave until meat of the squash is tender, about 3 minutes for each squash. Mix the tender squash with the butter and cinnamon. May serve in the skin.

This stew recipe is perfect for cool autumn days. I like to double the recipe and freeze half to serve later on busy evenings.

Butternut harvest stew
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken or lean pork, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Heat fat in a large pan and add all ingredients, sautéing until meat is no longer pink.

3 cans chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Add, cover and simmer for 10 minutes

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 medium apples, chopped
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon ground sage

Add and simmer until tender, 15 minutes or so. Discard bay leaf.
Serves 6.

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