What’s up with Squash?

When researching Squash, I discovered there are over 7,340,000 entries on google, some of which have to do with the game of squash, but mostly on summer and winter squash varieties.  Besides, sauteing or the typical casserole, what recipe possibilities are there when using squash?  First off, which squash do you use?  The winter squash varieties can include: Acorn , Amber Cup, Banana, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Fairytale Pumpkin, Spaghetti, and that’s not even half of it.  So what can you do with it?  Obviously, I’m going to tell you…  below you will find some delicious recipes using some of the winter squash varietals in unique ways including southwestern acorn squash, “it’s not spaghetti it’s squash” with fresh herbs, zucchini, tomatoes, and crispy bacon! & of course a fall squash menu could not be complete without a delicious soup.  So enjoy and enhance your fall menu options, get away from those dreadful casseroles, and discover the savory and succulent squash (now in season).

Squash Facts & Equivalents:

  1. Every part of the squash plant can be eaten
  2. 1lb of peeled squash is equal to 1 cup cooked
  3. 1lb of squash is equal to 2 to 3 serving
  4. Most squash varietals can be left out at room temp for weeks before cooking, perfect for the neglectful chef.  🙂

To Prepare and Use Winter Squash:

Look for squash that feels heavy for its size and has hard, deep-colored skin free from blemishes.

Cooking Winter Squash:

Winter squash can be cut in halves or pieces.

Dress any cooked winter squash with butter and herbs, a cream sauce, cheese sauce, maple syrup and nuts, marinara sauce or stewed fruit.

Any type of mashed or pureed squash can be used in the place of canned pumpkin in soups, pies, cookies or quick breads. Chunks of squash can be added to soups, stews and casseroles.

Preparing Winter Squash: Too cook them, first remove fibers and seeds. Wash the exterior of the squash just before using. The seeds are scooped out before or after cooking. Then bake, steam, or boil the squash.

Using Water When Cooking Winter Squash: When water is used in cooking the squash, the quantity of water should be kept small to avoid losing flavor and nutrients.

Peeling Winter Squash:  Because this rind makes most squash difficult to peel, it’s easier to cook the unpeeled squash, and then scoop out the cooked flesh. As many recipes do require peeling (and cutting) first. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin and when cutting hard winter squashes

Cutting Winter Squash:  Winter squash have a hard skin and flesh (this includes acorn, buttercup, butternut, calabaza, delicate, Hubbard, spaghetti, sweet dumpling, and Turban, as well as pumpkin).

To cut winter squash in half, grasp the squash firmly and use a sharp knife to slice through to the center. Then flip and cut the other side until the squash falls open. Remove and discard the seeds.

 

South Western Stuffed Acorn Squash

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe 

  • 3 acorn squash, (3/4-1 pound each)
  • 5 ounces bulk turkey sausage (for spice add italian sausage)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper,chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed (see Tip)
  • 1 small can of shoe peg corn 
  •  A handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Several dashes hot red pepper sauce, (Franks Red Hot)  to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Cut squash in half horizontally. Scoop out and discard seeds. Place the squash cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, beans,corn, salt and hot sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the tomatoes are broken down, 10 to 12 minutes. Throw in your Cilantro and stir.
  4. When the squash are tender, reduce oven temperature to 325°. Fill the squash halves with the turkey mixture. Top with cheese. Place on the baking sheet and bake until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

It’s not Spaghetti it’s Squash , & the kids will love it!!

 

 Yield: about 4 servings

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash (aprox. 2 1/2 lbs)
  • 2  1/2 TBSP Butter
  • 2 1/2 TBSP finely chopped herbs (i.e. basil, chives, sage, italian or flat leaf parsley)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Canned diced tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 yellow onion small diced
  • 1 zucchini medium diced
  • 3 slices of Bacon- cooked extra crisp
  • Shaved parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. 

FYI: A small, whole spaghetti squash will yield a TON of cooked squash! Spaghetti squash stores well in a Tupperware container in the fridge and tastes great reheated in the microwave.

While your squash is cooking in the oven, prepare your vegetables and herbs

Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.

Heat a skillet. Add the butter and first saute the onions until translucent (clear), add in the zucchini and spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine.   Now add the tomatoes, if using canned be sure & drain first then add in to the spaghetti squash mixture.  Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.  When plating top the mixture with some crispy bacon pieces and a shaving of parmesan!  Delish!!

(Note: You can serve this with a filet of fish or roasted chicken breast and have a full balanced meal with vegetables, tomatoes, protein, and lots of vitamins….not to mention how cool your kids will think the spaghetti squash is opposed to traditional pasta.)

  

Quick Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 1  whole garlic head
  • 4  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 6  cups  thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
  • 4  cups  (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 medium)
  • 2  cups  water
  • 2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic, squash, 2 cups water, broth, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is tender. Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatter). Blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture.

 

  

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