In the final installment of our summer series about enjoying in-season organic produce, learn simple tips for highlighting winter squash in fresh, well-spiced meals as summer turns into fall!
By Tom Havran
Winter squash are time capsules of summer’s bounty that you can enjoy all through the autumn and winter months. These hard rind fruits contain richly colored and flavored flesh that is a power house of beta-carotene laced nutrition. Because they lend themselves so well to both sweet and savory side dishes and main courses, there’s no reason not to enjoy winter squash as much as possible!
Some of the most popular, readily available and versatile varieties include acorn, delicata, butternut and spaghetti. Learn more about each type’s characteristic color, texture, flavor and application here.
How to prepare it: Thick-skinned squash, such as acorn and butternut, lend themselves to storage, while thin-skinned, small squash like delicata should be used as soon as possible. The simplest, and arguably best, way to prepare squash is to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with oil, adorn with spices and roast until fork-tender.
Spices and herbs to complement: Squash offers a balance of starchy, neutral flavors and nutty sweetness that allow it to work well with both sweet and savory seasonings. Classic pairings include cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and maple for sweet, and cayenne, sage and thyme for savory. Try creating mashed squash flavored with garlic, thyme and black pepper, or immerse tender boiled or roasted cubes of squash in a smoldering curry dish or creamy corn chowder seasoned with cayenne.
For a different flavor twist this fall, season your squash with Simply Organic’s new Crazy Awesome Veggies Sweet Cinnamon Chili seasoning mix.
Pairs well with: White meats like pork, chicken and turkey, or vegetable proteins such as tofu, tempeh and white beans.
5 Tips for enjoying winter squash:
- Roast squash with their rinds intact to create more tender, moister flesh. Peel and cube it to produce drier flesh with more sweet caramelization.
- Allow winter squash to cure for at least 10 days in a warm, dry environment before using or storing. Store winter squash in a cool, dark place, ideally at 50 to 75 percent relative humidity at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Squash are fragile, so handle with care! Any nicks, bruising or scrapes can compromise the shelf life of winter squash.
- Seek out alternative ways to use winter squash such as in tempeh and hash browns, or as a stand-in for any potato dish.
- Parboil prepared squash in water or double-fry it in oil for 3 to 5 minutes before roasting or frying to help create a crispier exterior and fluffy, tender interior for squash fries or chips.
Recipes to try:
What are your favorite ways to use winter squash? Share your ideas in the comments!
About the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.