<< Back to main

Colleen's CSA Corner Week 14

Posted 9/22/2020 6:42am by Colleen Quiram.

As we get into more of our fall products, including many varieties of squash, I thought I might provide a little ‘Squash 101’ for those of you who are new to this versatile vegetable. Our squash is harvested in multiple stages, selecting only the fruits with dried stems and pronounced ground markings at each harvest. Unlike the uncured squash sold in many supermarkets, our squash is allowed to cure (harden) outside, which yields a sweeter, more flavorful and better tasting squash, time after time. View a listing of all our squash varieties here.

All of our squash can be cooked using the same basic method:

  • Cut the squash in half. Discard the stem section, stringy pulp, and seeds
  • In a shallow baking dish, or on a roasting pan, place the two halves face down
  • Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 1 hour for a medium-sized butternut squash, or until tender
  • To test for doneness, pierce with a fork. It should easily pierce the peel and flesh

At this point you can top the squash with butter, honey, or maple syrup and enjoy right out of the shell. Or, wait until it cools, scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash or puree for use in soups, pies, or to freeze and save for a later use.

A few squash varieties I feel are better baked and eaten fresh in this method are Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, Acorn, and Carnival. We especially enjoy Delicata and Sweet Dumpling, however my favorite squash of all is the Buttercup. Thick like mashed potatoes, I prefer to bake the squash, let it cool, mash with a fork, scoop into oven safe ramekins, top with butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar. I can then put these ramekins in the oven at any time for a quick side dish with dinner.

Butternut Squash is great for cutting into cubes and roasting alongside cauliflower or brussels sprouts. This variety holds its shape very well and is naturally sweet. I often toss the cubed squash in a small amount of melted butter, kosher salt, and garlic powder. Dump it onto a baking sheet and roast at 350° until tender.

Acorn and Delicata squash make for a beautiful presentation when sliced into rings, wedges, or halfmoons and roasted as a side dish for a pork roast. Try a more savory method and sprinkle these varieties of squash with garlic and parmesan cheese before serving.

Sweet Dumpling squash is similar in flavor to Acorn, but not quite as moist. This is my favorite squash for post-Thanksgiving meals. Cut the top off the squash like you would be carving a pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, put the top back in and bake for about 20min until it starts to soften. Remove from oven and fill with your leftover wild rice, stuffing, diced turkey, and even a little cranberry sauce. Place back into the oven for another 30min, or until easily pierced with a fork. And there you have it, and entire meal in a squash. You can easily substitute Acorn squash for Sweet Dumpling as well, cut in half instead of the top, and fill with your favorite leftovers.

Spaghetti is another delicious squash, and while you can use the above baking method you will need a different technique to remove flesh. Using a fork, ‘comb’ the ‘spaghetti noodles’ in small amounts out of your cooked squash, be sure to comb them in the direction of the noodles. Top with spaghetti sauce, alfredo, or mix with pesto and cooked chicken for a fresh and healthy meal.

With so many choices, which one can you use for pie? Buttercup, butternut, or sweet baking pie pumpkins will give you the most ‘pumpkin’ flavor and least amount of stringiness. Try to let some of the moisture drain out of your pumpkin or squash before using in your favorite recipe.

Which squash will store the best? Any of them will store well, and if kept in the right conditions they might keep until January or February. Cold, but not freezing, garages and cellars are often the best locations to store squash. Keep them in a single layer out of the light, and check them frequently for any sign of decay. If you have a squash with a ‘bad spot’ on it, the entire squash may not be bad! Just cut out and toss the bad spot. You can still enjoy the remainder of the squash for dinner.

Can I decorate with squash? Absolutely! I often use the centerpiece of my kitchen table as a storage space for some smaller buttercup, sweet dumpling, and butternut squash. Just continue to check them for signs of decay, and use quicker than you would any squash in the garage as they will deteriorate faster in your home than they would outside.

Here are some of our favorite squash recipes, what favorite recipes do you have?

Baked Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Pecan, Cranberry Stuffing

Butternut Apple Crisp

Carnival Squash with Apples and Thyme

Grilled Butternut Squash

Roasted Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash

Roasted Squash with Parmesan and Herbs

Sweet Dumplings with Apple Stuffing

Wild Rice Stuffed Squash

 

Happy Fall Y’all!

Colleen