We’ve all heard the terms “summer squash” and “winter squash.” It’s weird terminology since you can get summer squash all winter long and winter squash pretty much all summer long. Confusing, yes, but easily explainable.
The terms “summer squash” and “winter squash” date back to a time when the seasonal vegetables were only available when they “were in season.” Right now the newest crop of winter squashes are just rolling into the marketplace so now is the time to get them, cook them and eat them.
Winter squash are more typically round in shape and have a harder, noneatable skin that needs to be peeled. Winter (or fall-harvested squash for those of a more literal mind) take longer to mature than summer squash and can be stored for months longer than the summer variety as long as they are left in a cool dry area.
You should look for squash that feels heavier than you think it should for its size. The skin should have a deep color and it shouldn’t have any obvious bruises or blemishes.
Cut off the stems, cut in half, remove the seeds and stringy fibers and you’re ready to cook. It’s usually easier to peel squash after it’s been cooked.
Casablanca Acorn Squash
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsps. margarine, melted
4 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
5-6 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, shredded
2 cups garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup raisins
3 Tbsps. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans (14 oz. each) vegetable broth
2 cups uncooked couscous
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Arrange squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender.
Combine the sugar and margarine in a sauce pan and heat until the two are combined. Baste the inside of the squash with the mixture and set it aside.
In a skillet heat the oil and add the garlic, celery and carrots, and saute 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, raisins, cumin, salt and pepper, and continue cooking, stirring often, until vegetables are crisp tender. Add the vegetable broth and couscous.
Cover and turn off heat. Allow the mixture to sit, covered for 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the cover, mix to combine and then fill the squash and serve.
Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew Pot
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 lbs. skinless bone-in chicken breast
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsps. minced garlic
1 cup chopped celery
2 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
2⁄3 cup white wine
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. thyme
4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas
Heat oil in a large (41⁄2-quart) Dutch oven. Add chicken and brown about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove chicken and add onion, garlic and celery to pan; saute on medium heat about 5 minutes.
Return chicken to the pan with vegetables. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, salt, pepper, sage, thyme and bring to a boil; simmer about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Add the squash, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until squash is tender. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 more minutes.
Serves 6 to 8.
Winter Squash and Apple Soup
Roasting squash and apples intensifies their flavors. Use a mixture of winter squash varieties for a more complex taste.
3 lbs. winter squash such as butternut, kabocha, acorn or delicata, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 8 cups)
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 cups vegetable broth
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400˚. Line two rimmed baking sheets or shallow roasting pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss squash, apples, onion, garlic and ginger until mixed well. Spread mixture on baking sheets in a single layer. Roast squash mixture until tender and beginning to brown, about 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pans between oven racks halfway through baking.
Remove from oven and puree squash mixture with broth and 1 cup water in a blender or food processor in 2 batches till smooth.
Transfer to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add more water if needed to thin soup to desired consistency.
Serve garnished with parsley.