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WINTER SQUASH

An abundance of these nutritious and large vegetables in the supermarket and at farmers' markets can be overwhelming to home cooks but please don't let their size and appearance deter you from preparing winter squash which come in such a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.   The sweet and slightly nutty flavors of many of these squashes are delicious as vegetable side dishes with roasted meats and can even be used in soups.

There are many more varieties of squash than those featured below and some are even available  year-round despite being defined as winter squash. The main difference between "winter" and "summer" squashes is that winter squash have a harder inedible shell and summer squash normally have soft edible skins. Their names can also be confusing since they vary depending on where the squash was grown.  Furthermore, the words "squash" and "pumpkin" are frequently used interchangeably. The word "squash" comes from the Native Americans of Massachusetts "askut-asquash" meaning "eaten raw or uncooked".  Nutritional data shown on some squash varieties below is based on a 3.5 oz. serving, cooked plain.

HOW TO CUT A WINTER SQUASH -- Click here for the video

A seemingly daunting task....how to cut up a large Acorn (see video) or Butternut squash (see photos below) - both with hard inedible shells?   Here's what you'll need:

  • A rubber mallet - either from your tool box or buy a new one at a hardware store or Home Depot
  • An 8-inch or 10-inch chef's knife -  a cheap one just won't do the job - although having said that, there are some heavy-duty very reasonably priced chef's knives available (see Anolon knives)
  • A non-skid surface - e.g. with a kitchen towel on top of a cutting board
  • An ice cream scoop

1.  Place squash on top of a kitchen towel on a cutting surface; and, depending on how you want to cut the squash (chunks, halves, lengthwise etc.) position the knife blade where you want to make the first cut through the squash

2.  Holding the knife steady, begin to tap the blade into the squash using the rubber mallet; continue to tap on the blade edge until it makes its way through the squash.

3.  If small pieces are needed, continue the same process as above until pieces are manageable to peel or cut up into cubes for roasting or boiling.

4.  To remove the seeds, use the ice cream scoop - if you don't have an ice cream scoop, the sharp edge of a large serving spoon or measuring spoon will also work well to remove the seeds.

 
   

 

Acorn Squash
Acorn

This squash has a dark green and sometimes orange flecked hard skin with a light orange colored flesh.  Comes in small enough sizes to halve, scoop out seeds, fill cavity with 1 tablespoon of butter or brush with olive oil and bake until softened.

 

Banana Squash
Banana

Long, cylindrical shape with pointed ends. Pale orange to creamy white shell with orange flesh.  Taste: hearty squash flavor. Season: year round  Preparation: bake, steam, boil or microwave.  Nutrition: 50 cal; good source of Vitamin C, potassium and niacin.

 

Buttercup Squash
Buttercup

A flattened round squash with dark green exterior and orange flesh. Taste: sweet squash flavor. Season: year round but sometimes sporadic. Preparation: Bake, stem, boil or microwave. Glaze after baking or , mash or puree for other dishes. Nutrition: 50 cal; good source of Vitamin C, potassium and niacin.

 

Butternut Squash
Butternut

Large cylindrical shaped squash with a bulbous end, tan exterior, orange flesh. Taste: rich squash flavor. Season: year round Preparation: can be stuffed or parboiled and baked, then glazed like sweet potatoes.  Nutrition: 68 cal; 17.5 grams carbohydrates; 609 mg. potassium; good source of Vitamin A and iron.

 

Delicata Squash
Delicata

Elongated shaped squash with green and cream striped colored exterior and yellow flesh. Taste: Mild, slightly sweet corn-like flavor. Best season: June through January. Preparation: Bake or quarter and boil or steam; excellent micro-waved. Large seed cavity is good for stuffing.  Nutrition: 50 cal; good source of vitamin C, potassium and niacin.

 

Golden Nugget Squash
Golden Nugget

Small, round squash with orange ridged exterior and bright orange flesh. Taste: sweet squash flavor. Best season: June through March. Preparation: bake or steam halves or microwave. Bake and top with butter and brown sugar or stuff with meat mixtures, or poultry stuffing. Nutrition: 50 cal; good source of Vitamin C, potassium and niacin.

 

Hubbard Squash
Hubbard

Large round bumpy squash with tapered ends. Exterior is golden, gray-blue OR green with orange flesh. Also Red Hubbard has an orange exterior. Taste: Rich squash flavor. Best season: May through January. Preparation: Bake, boil, steam or microwave. Good stuffed or glazed with butter and sugar. Good when mixed with poultry stuffing. If very large, squash may need to be cut by a butcher using a hack saw.  Nutrition: 50 cal; 11.7 grams carbohydrates; 271 mg. potassium; 24 mg calcium, good source of vitamin A.

 

Kabocha Squash
Kabocha

A flattened round squash with deep green, mottled exterior and orange flesh. Taste: honey tasting rich squash flavor. Season: year round Preparation: use in the same way as any hard shelled squash and pumpkin. Can be baked, steamed, pureed, braised, tempura-fried, or pureed for soups, puddings, pies. Nutrition: 50 cal; good source of Vitamin C, potassium and niacin.

 

Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sweet Dumpling

Scalloped pumpkin-shaped with creamy white and green stripe exterior and pale yellow flesh. Taste: sweet  Season: June through February. Preparation: Bake, boil steam, microwave. Good for one or two servings. Shell can be stuffed with cooked dried fruit or apples; top with cheese and nuts and brown under a broiler. Nutrition: 50 cal; good source of vitamin C, potassium, niacin.

 

 

 

 
 
           
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