This time of the year you can walk through any farmer’s market, and you’ll see the full spectrum of squash from butternut, acorn, crookneck, and more. The variety is beautiful looking and tasting. A neighbor recently confided that she was afraid to cook a “real squash,” because it seemed too complicated a task to peel, cut, de-seed, etc.
Realizing that I really like my fingers, long ago, I started putting a whole squash in the oven, cooking it at 400 degrees, and when it was done, I’d peel it, cut it, de-seed it and use it in a number of dishes.
Here are five easy things to do with squash that will have you trying all types. Oh, and by the way, my favorite is kabocha, it sort of resembles a green pumpkin, and to me, tastes like chestnuts.
Be it fresh, frozen, canned or boxed, squash is a good staple to have on hand. It can help add new flavor and texture to any dish. And, on a whole, squash is loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C. A serving of squash contains 457% of your daily vitamin A needs!
Ideally, fresh is best, but having canned or frozen on hand is always a good back up.
Pasta Sauce Enhancer
I grew up at my Italian grandmother’s apron strings, and I can make a really good marinara sauce, I think she’d be proud of my plant-strong version of her sauce, too. I add a cup of pureed squash to my basic sauce recipe. It lends a smoother and creamier texture, and provides a delicious undertone and earthy flavor.
Follow your favorite recipe, and then add the squash. You can also use a jar of Engine 2 pasta sauce if you do not have time to create your. Just add about a cup of the pureed squash to the sauce, stir, heat, and serve.
Cook your squash, once you have tended to removing the seeds, and peeling it, add what will be about two (2) cups of squash. Place squash in a bowl and add ¼ cup of almond milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 t of cinnamon. Mix together, then move to a food processor and puree until silky smooth. If needed, add maple syrup to taste. When done, place in a dessert cup, and chill. Garnish with roasted squash seeds and enjoy. Serves 4-6.
Chocolate Ice Cream
You’ll think this is sinfully delicious. The truth? A bag of frozen squash, ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ cup of almond milk, ¼ cup of maple syrup, and a teaspoon of alcohol-free vanilla and you have the best ingredients for a rich and creamy chocolate “nice cream.” Put all ingredients into a high-speed blender, using the tamper to mix ingredients together. You’ll know that you’ve reached dessert perfection when the mixture’s consistency is like sorbet.
In about a minute, you will have a rich and creamy dessert to please the world. Use an ice cream scoop to serve the dessert. It will be dreamy and delicious. Garnish with roasted squash seeds, or fresh berries. Serves 4.
Acorn is a great squash, it’s fun to look at and comes in a variety of colors from deep green to speckled orange. Here’s a fun and easy way to prepare this squash for a nice side dish, or a main dish! Your call.
Take two acorn squash, wash the skin. Place each whole squash on a baking sheet and put in a 400 degree oven for about twenty-minutes. Remove from oven and place on cutting board. NOTE: Use a pot holder to secure the squash. Slice into ¾ inch slices, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (remove seeds).
Brush lightly with pure maple syrup, and sprinkle equal amounts of cinnamon and cayenne pepper on each slice. Cook for fifteen minutes, then flip, apply another brushing of maple syrup, and sprinkle with spices. Cook for an additional fifteen minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve as you wish. Adds color to your plate.
Quick Fall Hummus
If you are short on time, this quick hummus will add a new taste sensation to any fall crudite platter. Grab a container of Engine 2 hummus and add a cup of pureed squash. Season with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and mix well. The squash adds more color and volume to the hummus. Sometimes, adding a few splashes of hot sauce to spice things up a bit is a fun idea.
Serve with your favorite vegetables, included some roasted, acorn “half-moons.”
Bring the fall into your kitchen with the bounty of squash and enjoy the warm and nutty flavors that they will bring to your platters.