Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Squash Your Fears

 One of the best things about fall is that, as the nights get cooler, a whole new world of delicious comfort foods, too heavy and warming for summer, opens up. And one of my personal faves of these foods is squash. Now, I know that some of you would put squash lower than "termite sandwich" on your Things I Want to Eat list, but I would argue that it's because you haven't given squash a fair shake. I mean, remember when I told you about Brussels sprouts, and you were like "Ewww", and then I was all, "Try them!" and you did and you were, like "OMG, yum!"? That was a great time. Let's do that again.
Squash, when properly prepared, has a delicious creamy texture, and a wonderful sweet flavor- like pumpkin pie, but you don't have to wait for dessert! It is also rich in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as folate, fiber, potassium, beta-carotene, iron, and cancer-preventing phytonutrients- it's pretty much up there with the healthiest foods you can eat (which is good, because it sort of makes up for preparing it with butter and brown sugar, if you want to). Also, squashes are everywhere this time of year, and are typically pretty inexpensive, so they make a readily available and easily-prepared main dish (try filling the cavity with quinoa) or a side that tastes amazing with fish, chicken, turkey, shrimp...pretty much anything. My favorites are butternut (see the middle squash in the photo above), and acorn (the front squash, above), but you should also try spaghetti, kabocha, and ambercup squashes when you see them (click here for a list of squashes).

Here is my super-easy, fool-proof, delicious squash recipe. Try it- I guarantee you will love it.
And if you don't, I'll buy you a termite sandwich.

What you Do:

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, using a large sharp knife (don't try this with a little steak knife- you'll slip and cut yourself, and I don't want your blood on my hands). Scoop out the seeds and stringy squash gunk with a spoon, and discard.
2.  Place the squash halves, face up, on an aluminum-foil-lined rimmed baking pan. Spread each half with 1 tbsp butter (or olive oil), and a dash of cinnamon, salt, pepper, and drizzle with 1/2 cup orange juice (bottled is fine). Sprinkle on 1 tbsp of brown sugar or maple syrup, if desired.
3. Place squash in the oven, and bake for 1 hour, or until the meat of the squash is tender and soft.
4.Enjoy while you think about how right I always am.

photo credit: For the Love of Cooking Blog


Megan said...

A pumpkin carving set- knives and scoop works perfectly on squashes. It also works on other vegetables such as eggplants, tomatoes etc, because the knives are able to cut through the sturdy skins without being too sharp that your fingers are in any danger. Another way to fix squash, this time spaghetti squash, is to treat it like actual spaghetti. Hollow it out, but leave the filling inside, add tomato sauce, ground meat if you want, and cheese to make a true spaghetti squash.

Anonymous said...

If you cook it cut side down, plain, and with a cup of water in the bottom of the pan you can use it to make many different things.

Add butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and whip to make something akin to mashed sweet potatoes.

Whip with no additives for home-made baby food.

And supposedly you can use it in place of canned pumpkin in bread and pies. I havne't tried this yet though.

Heather P.

Anonymous said...

I just made acorn squash yesterday! I pierced the skin, put into the microwave (6-8 minutes per lb.), cut in half, scoop out the seeds and then put butter and brown sugar in it. You can also put pecans, walnut, salt or pepper. There was actually a sticker on my squash on how to cook it. I liked it. Not sure if the hubby did.

Sandra said...

Sounds so yummy!
Will definitely be trying this very soon! :)

Lily said...

Nice tips, people! It sounds like you already are all on the squash bandwagon. Speaking of which, I wonder what the squash bandwagon looks like...maybe like Cinderella's pumpkin coach?