Seasonal Superfood: Squash
Nothing says winter is on its way like an array of orange-fleshed squash in all shapes and sizes at the market. Produce guru and cookbook author Deborah Madison shares her shopping and cooking tips for four of the tastiest varieties, plus four delicious recipes!
With a peak season from September to December, Debora goes gaga for gourds at the end of the year for a few reasons:
THEY'RE A COOK'S DREAM
"Squash are so versatile," Deborah says. Don't stop at side dishes. Turn them into a main course or even dessert.
THEY'RE SO DARNED GOOD FOR YOU
Winter squash are high in fiber (1 cooked cup has 6 grams) and low in fat. Their orange flesh signals they're fullof immune-boosting beta carotene and other antioxidants.
"I've never met a squash I didn't like -- their curves, their colors, even their warts when they have them. To me, they're fall's most intriguing produce," Deborah says.
GET TO KNOW YOUR SQUASH!
(From top to bottom)
This common squash has abundant flesh, few seeds and a rich, creamy texture when cooked. "It's ideal for almost any dish," Deborah says.
DELICATA (Top right, striped)
"Although delicatas are in season now, their sweet flesh and skin is actually more akin to summer squash," Deborah says. They're easy to prep -- no peeling necessary!
This pumpkin-like squash can be tricky to slice when raw. Deborah's trick: "Roast it whole, then scoop the flesh from the skin."
SPAGHETTI (Bottom left, yellow)
The noodle-like strands that form when you scrape the cooked flesh with a fork give this squash its name. They're moist, light and nutty in flavor.
Now that you know more about squash's health benefits, it's time to start cooking! Here are 4 recipes to help you savor winter squash!
DELICATA RINGS WITH SAGE
"Prepping delicata is as easy as slicing right through it -- you can eat the skin," Deborah says. "If you prefer, instead of the breadcrumbs and cheese, garnish sauteed rings with chopped parsley and garlic."
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH RED CHILE & MINT
"Buy butternuts in bulk so you always have them on hand for this cozy soup. Whole squash remain in good condition for weeks in a cool, dry place."
CHEESY SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH TOMATO SAUCE
"You can season and serve spaghetti squash the same way you would pasta," Deborah says. "Think of it as a gluten-free version."
MAPLE KABOCHA CAKE
"Cooked kabocha is buttery, sweet and soft, perfect for folding into baked goods or using in savory purees."