Why, oh why, am I the only one in this house that loves squash. And believe me, I have tried to prepare it in every which way but still to no avail. What sounds like a no-brainer to me in the department of delicious foods turns out to be a non-starter for the rest of the family. No reason to give in yet, though, at least not with the little ones. Research states that children need repeat exposure to new food, as often as twenty times, before they embrace it. We are at fifty and counting and my efforts are still going strong. Either way, if you love squash, read on; and if not, do so anyway as it may lead you to the enlightened path of squash appreciation – one try at a time. Come and cook with us!
The reason I love winter squash is that it doesn’t just look beautiful as a fall decoration, but it is also versatile, easy to prepare once you know how to handle it and, to top it off, it is a nutritional powerhouse. Winter squash comes in different varieties; the most well known are acorn, spaghetti and butternut. Acorn squash, for instance, is a fiber heavyweight with one cup of cooked acorn squash delivering a whopping 9 grams of fiber, along with plenty of potassium and some iron to top it off. Butternut squash, on the other hand, is an especially rich source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene which promotes healthy vision but is also the only variety among the squashes that has a substantial amount of beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant phytochemical linked to lower risks of lung cancer as well as improved joint health. This is why we made butternut squash our introductory post almost three years ago.
My two favorite types of squash are delicata and kabocha. The latter tastes like chestnuts, and I use it along with sweet potatoes to make a wicked-good gluten-free bread – more on that soon. The former is wonderful for its taste, versatility and ease of use. The easiest way to prepare it is to wash it and cut it into 1/4-inch round slices – skin, seeds, strings and all. Lightly coat the slices with one teaspoon of olive or coconut oil before arranging the rounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to a hot oven – 400º F for 15-20 minutes – turning them once, and you have yourself some nutritious and tasty eye-candy to serve along with dinner. Try it once, and I promise that you will be hooked, too.
Your options don’t stop there. Another great way to use delicata squash is to cut it into chunks, this time without the seeds, roast it and toss it with blue cheese and sautéed pumpkin seeds. If you ask my friend Susanne, her favorite way to eat delicata is in a risotto. These are but a few of the many ways you can incorporate a little squash in your meals. As a testament to my dedication to this vegetable, I just realized that I wrote about delicata squash exactly one year ago. What can I say, true love lasts forever, or at least another year… Come and cook with us!