Thursday, November 3, 2011

Winter Squash!

How did I go so long without appreciating winter squash?  Oh my gosh, my food has been so good this week.   I've been trying different squashes out.  Here's what I bought at the store:

That's festival, red kuri (I think), acorn, and delicata.  Today I bought a butternut.   The festival, which may also be called sweet dumpling or carnival (I think), was fantastic!   The delicata and red kuri were bland.  I read in wikipedia that red kuri gets real sweet when ripe so I think I'll let my second one sit around for a month and then try it.   Not sure I'll go for the delicata again.  The acorn was very good, definitely a repeat.  I've had butternut before, will have that tomorrow and I expect that will be good.  

Since I am the ultimate lazy cook, here's how I prepared them:   put them in the oven at 300 F for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Head of to exercise class.  return, turn off oven, let cool, cut open, remove some of the seedy stuff, leaving the yummy stuff, mix that in with soup.  The soup I made last weekend and froze in daily containers.  This had beans, tomatoes, some grains, lots of garden/local veggies, and some spices.   Oh, I also add some grated ginger and pumpkin pie spice to the mixture.  Here's a picture of my daily meals this week.  At left is the soup/squash mixture.  

At right are "micro-salads."  This is a bunch of veggies and fruit chopped in a food processor.  This week it was usually romaine lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, kale, apple, pomegranate seeds, orange juice and fruit infused vinegar.   Very yummy.   Today for a treat I had the same veggies, but mango, strawberries, raspberries, and banana for the fruit.  I had these fruits on hand for a fruit salad I made for housemate.   As usual, I ate carrots and kohlrabi while preparing.  

I might be boring and eat this way for a couple of weeks.  That's kind of what I do.  


Ginger said...

How funny...I too decided to widen my palate to include squash. I made the most delicious pumpkin, tomato, basil kream soup with dry sauteed mushrooms and zucchini as a garnish. I never knew what I had been missing. More experimenting is coming in the future.

Darryl said...

I absolutely love winter squash, and can share some experiences with it.

One bit of advice is not to give up too quickly on a variety. Individual squashes vary quite a bit, and you have to put up with the occasional bland or not-very-sweet one. Delicatas are not generally as sweet as many others, but have a wonderful flavor that I've really come to enjoy. Kuri squash can be fantastically good, and definitely try out kabocha, our favorite here.

Baking is fine, but what I find easier with less cleanup (and more energy-efficient) is to cut the squash into pieces and put it in a very large covered glass dish. Then I microwave it on medium for 3 or 4 minutes at a time, allowing it to sit quite a bit between heatings (usually while I'm doing some other cooking, I just give it another heating every time I remember it). Letting it sit between heatings allows it to sweeten up. After a few heatings, start testing it with a fork for doneness. Sometimes I pull off the seeds when it is partway cooked, or else when it's finished.

For cutting it up before microwaving, I use a very sharp knife (but very carefully, the only serious cooking cut I ever had was when a Hubbard squash got the better of me). If cutting it is difficult, one trick is to pierce it in a couple of places and put it in the microwave on high for 1 minute to soften it a bit.

I only buy organic squash, and with most varieties I eat the peel along with the rest, indeed the peels of Delicata, kuri, kabocha, and butternut are quite edible and very nutritious. Acorn squashes are one of my least favorite, with barely edible peels. Hubbards have inedible peels, but are usually very flavorful and sweet.

Anonymous said...

Are winter squashes considered a starch. You're not worried about eating too much starch?

Patti said...

My favorite is the delicata and the only one I will buy if it is available. It is the sweetest variety, if you let it age. I can tell by the picture you took that it is green. The aged ones are more golden. If you see a stack of them go with the darker color, not the bright green stripe with bright yellow. You can buy them and let them sit around for awhile on your counter til they turn a more golden color.
I cut the delicata in half, scoop out the seeds and put the halves flat side down on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cook 20-30 min at 350 or so.
I used to microwave them with saran over the cut edge. It was quick... 5 min or so a half but toxic fumes possible with that method.
Properly aged delicata are extremely sweet. Need nothing added. Here in VA they are only available from Sept-Nov.

kneecap said...

wow, thanks for all this great advice about cooking and eating squash! Darryl, I've been eating the peels too--I like them! Ginger, your soup sounds great. Patti, thanks for letting me know about delicata. I will buy more squash and let it ripen. fun!

anonymous, I did an analysis of my food today just for you. :) okay because I am a geek. I ate, holy cow, 4.6 lbs of non-starchie veggies! that doesn't count the veggies in my 2 cups of veggie bean soup. the squash was 1.5 lb which was more than normal. My fruit intake was 0.85 lbs. nuts and seeds only 1/2 oz. normally I'd eat a little more nuts and seeds and a little less squash. Total calories was 1400. the squash accounted for 268 calories. it's a good way to fill out your calories once you've eaten all your veggies and beans. I'd rather fill out my calories with squash than excess fruit and nuts. plus it's very satisfying and has lots of nutrients. it's not as starchy and high-calorie as sweet potatoes. if you are trying to lose weight, you could eat less. On the other hand it is more filling, and less caloric than fruit and nuts, and has high fiber, so I personally think it's a great weight loss food too.

Irene @ H.V.R. said...

Love this blog!! Very timely. I have a lot of squash in my kitchen and I am running out of ideas on what to do with it. Thanks for another great and delicious recipe.