ENJOYING WINTER SQUASH
By Frank Branham
I love the beauty of autumn in Flagstaff, but I am always sad to see the end of fresh summer vegetables from my garden. Now that fall is here it is time to start enjoying this year’s winter squash. Pumpkins have become a symbol of fall, but acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squash offer a great variety of flavors.
Most winter squash grow very well in our climate. It's best to start them indoors in late May and move them outside in the middle of June so they have the maximum growing season. Each plant needs a bed of well-amended soil about the size of a bushel basket, which gives them enough room for their roots. These massive plants flourish with huge leaves, long vines, and copious yellow flowers. For a special treat male blossoms can be stuffed and fried. Be sure to leave enough male blossoms to pollinate the female flowers that appear on the tiny new squash. The winter squash will grow and mature just in time for the first light frost to give them a hint of sweetness. Once harvested the squash should be cured in a sunny window for two weeks then moved to a cool dry place for up to nine months.
Most winter squash recipes start with splitting them in half, scooping out the seeds and roasting until tender. Spaghetti squash has a mild savory flavor and the cooked flesh easily shreds into pasta like strands. To maintain the texture of those strands it is best to bake spaghetti squash with the cut side down on a cookie sheet with a little water. Cook for about thirty minutes or until soft. Scoop out the bright yellow flesh and shred it with your hands or a fork. To make Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro sauté these al dente strands with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and fresh chopped basil. Toss with fresh Parmesan Cheese before serving. For a quick side dish sauté the strands with butter, salt, pepper and a hint of nutmeg.
Acorn squash, which have a sweet, nutty flavor, are relatively small so you can serve a roasted half squash. Filling acorn squash with a Thanksgiving style bread stuffing makes an interesting entrée. Each bite combines a little squash with the stuffing. As an alternative a smaller wedge can be roasted with brown sugar and butter as a side dish.
Link to: Pumpkin cheesecake recipe
Link to: Winter squash soup recipe