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Soul-warming cooking with winter squash


Yes, I realize that PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latté, for those living under a rock) season now starts as early as August, but the winter squash varietals I choose to celebrate start making their Farmer’s Market appearance in late September – early October. I’m talking about Hubbard, Delicata, acorn, butternut, Kabocha, and spaghetti squash, among other myriad types — and, of course, pumpkins.

Winter squash varietals on display at Trader Joe’s (Photo by Julie Chernoff)

When choosing your squash, look for those without skin punctures or cuts. Winter squash is by nature enrobed by a hard, thick skin that is mostly inedible. This helps to preserve the squash, so any soft spots or mold will indicate that the integrity of the vegetable has been compromised. Store in a cool but dry locale with plenty of air flow. They will keep for several months if stored properly, but once cut into, they should be used within a few days. With the notable exception of spaghetti squash, the flesh is largely interchangeable in recipes. The larger the piece of squash, the longer the cooking process will take. Right before using, wash the outer rind to get rid of any lingering dirt, then skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the squash in half lengthwise for larger vegetables and scoop out the hard seeds within. Now cut squash into desired-size chunks and boil, sauté, or roast as called for in your recipe. Feeling lazy? No judgment here. Buy ready-to-use cubes of fresh or frozen butternut squash to add to soups and stews, or a can of organic pumpkin purée for that Thanksgiving pie.

Roast in the oven and use in a winter salad.

Soul-warming cooking with winter squash