Squash: From Stoop to Soup
More than a decoration
When you look at your neighbor’s over-the-top fall porch display do you ever wonder what those bright colorful gourds taste like? Just me? Cool.
Well if you’ve ever thought about adding more seasonal veggies in the fall but didn’t know where to start keep reading to learn how to incorporate our favorite seasonable veggie this fall.
Not all of the bright outdoor display gourds at your local grocer are relegated to the front stoop- some are quite tasty with their tough outer skin and dressed-for-fall exterior. Underneath those colorful, sometimes rough, exteriors is nutrient-dense flesh that does really well in soups – it’s just the right amount of starch to yield a creamy texture. Of course, straight up baking or roasting your squash is always an option. In fact, many varieties have edible skins and do not need to be peeled. For those that sport a tough skin your pressure cooker might be a time-saving option.
Also known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash has green skin, orange flesh, and a shape similar to pumpkin. The flesh is super sweet when cooked and is rich in beta-carotene – 1 cup has more than 200% DV of vitamin A! You’ll need to soften the skin beforehand- place the whole squash in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes to soften the skin – it will make cutting, peeling, and chopping an easier and much safer experience. Kabocha is an excellent substitute for butternut squash in your favorite soup.
Many of us are more familiar with Acorn squash. Acorn squash varies in color from dark green to tie-dyed green with orange shades. The flesh is less sweet than kabocha and is more yellow than orange. Just one cup provides more than 25% DV of vitamin C. You can soften the squash if needed by heating in the oven, although my favorite time saving hack is to place the 2 halves in the pressure cooker for about 8 minutes (without the seeds) and then scoop out the flesh and mash with brown sugar and cinnamon. If roasting is more your style simply trim the top from each squash, invert on the cutting board, and slice from bottom to top to create two halves. Remove seeds. You can bake the halves with a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of maple syrup for 30 minutes at 350°F – an excellent side dish. Feeling fancy? You can also slice into half moons to prepare for roasting.
Sugar pumpkins look a lot like carving pumpkins so be sure to select those marked especially for cooking. They are sweeter than their jack-o-lantern cousin, so make sure you check the label. . The best way to cook the flesh is to roast the entire pumpkin – this allows the flesh to remain moist and helps the sugars to develop. Remove stem from pumpkin, rinse, and make several slits through the skin with a sharp knife. Bake at 350°F for about an hour. Remove from the oven and let sit until cooled. Cut the top portion off [around where the stem would be], remove seeds, and scoop out flesh. Then you have your own pumpkin puree to add to hummus, yogurt, a homemade latte, or even pie!
Probably on the top of our list for ease of preparation! Delicata squash has a mild, nutty flavor, firm flesh, and thin edible skin. Preparing this variety could not be simpler: rinse, cut in half, remove seeds, slice into half-moons, toss with some olive oil and salt and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes until browned. Delicious enough to eat on their own as a fiber-rich snack!
It can be challenging to find some of these less obvious varieties at your local grocery, so take advantage of farmers markets, you-pick stands, and pumpkin patches to try something you might not normally see in the produce aisle.
Don’t forget the seeds!
Food companies have made it their business to repurpose this compost-worthy waste into delicious edible snacks – but you can do this too! Rinse any remaining flesh from seeds and lay out on paper towels to dry. Here are a few suggestions for different ways to prep the seeds for a tasty high fiber, omega-3 containing treat.
- For savory, toss with a bit of olive oil, seasoning of choice, and salt and pepper to taste.
- For sweet, toss with a bit of melted coconut oil, a touch of maple syrup, cinnamon or other spice, and a pinch of salt.
- Sweet and savory, mix and match your favorite seasonings- lemon-pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon & turmeric, or anything that you can think of.
Whatever the combination, roast seeds on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Enjoy as a snack or topping for salads, yogurt, oatmeal, or chia pudding.