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Cooking with Love

Everything Squash

Brooke Hagerty

(10/2015)Squash comes in all shapes and sizes, is available year round and is arguably one of the most versatile vegetables around. From the light and airy green and yellow squash to the hearty butternut squash to my personal favorite the spaghetti squash there is sure be one that will fit the bill with everyone in your household.

From realsimple.com here are some descriptions of different types of squash. I have followed them up with some great recipes!

ACORN - Shaped like its namesake, this small, dark green, orange, or buff-colored squash has a ribbed rind and a moist yellow or orange interior that is loaded with fiber. When halved for roasting, acorn squash can be used as a natural bowl for fillings, such as apples, currants, and chestnuts.

Great for: Roasting. Peeling is difficult, so cut it in half or slice (the skin is edible).

Classic Baked Acorn Squash Recipe - from SimplyRecipes.con

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutesYield: Serves 2 to 4, depending on how much squash you like to eat.

Ingredients

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt

Method

1 Preheat your oven to 400EF (205EC).

2 Using a sharp, sturdy chef's knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from stem to tip. (A rubber mallet can help if you have one.) The squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.

Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth.

baked-acorn-squash-method-1 baked-acorn-squash-method-2

Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.

Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4-inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn't burn or get dried out in the oven.

3 Rub a half teaspoon of butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter. Crumble a tablespoon of brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup.

baked-acorn-squash-method-3 baked-acorn-squash-method-4

4 Bake for about an hour to an hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through. It's hard to overcook squash, it just gets better with more caramelization. But don't undercook it.

When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a bit before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

BUTTERNUT - One of the most common winter squash, this foot-long, bell-shaped variety has thin, butterscotch-colored skin and sweet, nutty flesh. Its smooth, thin skin makes it easier to peel than many other squash varieties. For the most abundant flesh, look for butternut squash with a long, thick neck. Dense and creamy, it pairs well with a variety of flavors, including smoky bacon, cinnamon, and balsamic vinegar. It also has the highest doses of vitamins A and C.

Great for: Roasting and soups.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red enchilada sauce (homemade or canned)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut 1/2-inch-dice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced - I USE MORE FOR EXTRA SPICY!
  • 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium canned black beans, rinsed and drained -
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (fresh)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 medium low-carb whole wheat flour tortillas (I used La Tortilla Factory)
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions, for garnish
  • reduced-fat sour cream, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400EF. Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno and cook 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add cubed butternut, Rotel tomatoes, black beans, water, cilantro, cumin and chili powder and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Place about a generous 1/3 cup filling in the center of each tortilla and roll, place on the baking dish seam side down. Repeat with the remaining filling. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese and bake, covered with foil until hot and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Top with scallions and eat with sour cream if desired.

SPAGHETTI - This oval yellow squash contains a surprise: a stringy flesh that, when cooked, separates into mild-tasting, spaghetti-like strands. Exceedingly mild, spaghetti squash is often dressed with tomato sauce like pasta, or it can be simply enhanced with butter and herbs. Spaghetti squashes typically weigh 4 to 8 pounds; squashes on the larger side will have the best flavor and thicker "noodles."

Great for: Roasting. Scrape out the strands and dress with butter or pasta sauce.

BAKED SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH GARLIC AND BUTTER - from steamykitchen.com

I tend to under-bake the spaghetti squash just a bit, so it still retains just a slight crunch. Baking time really depends on how big your squash is - try to get the smallest one, especially if youíre only feeding 4 people. Itís ready if you can pierce the squash with a paring knife with little resistance. If youíre a garlic love, donít be shy - use more!

Alternatively, microwave the whole squash for 2-4 minutes (to soften enough to cut lengthwise). Place squash cut-side down on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until tender.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup finely minced parsley (or basil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). Bake spaghetti squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.

2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to remove and discard the seeds. Continue using fork to scrape the squash to get long, lovely strands. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

3. Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. The spaghetti squash should have a slight crunch (i.e. not mushy) - but if you like it softer, cover the pan and cook 2 more minutes.

Again, this versatile vegetable is sure to be a crowd pleaser with everyone. Add your favorite protein and a salad and your meal will be complete!

As always, should you have a question, an idea for an article or are in need of my personal chef/catering services please contact me at brooke@thefoodchick.biz. Be sure to check out my website, www.thefoodchick.biz.

Until next month, Happy Eating!

Read other articles by Brooke Hagerty