Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Squash is actually a fruit

Cathi Litzenberger offers a low-car pad Thai that uses spaghetti squash instead of noodles

The word squash brings many different images to mind. Squash, a bug; squash, a game; squash, a vegetable? That’s the one!

A squash is actually a fruit, and yet we use it as a vegetable, so we call it a vegetable. You can eat the flowers (stuffed and fried); leaves and stalks, if tender, can be sautéed and eaten and are great to add to soups. Some amazing winter squash varieties that will be easy to find are acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is a unique variety with pasta-like cooked flesh. The bigger the squash, and the brighter yellow the skin, the better the taste.

The spaghetti squash recipe below is a low-carb dish, tasty and filling, even if you’re not watching your waistline! There are many wonderful recipes for squash soups. The one I’ve chosen for today is because of its simplicity and great taste.

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

1 small spaghetti squash, halved and seeded

Sauce:

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Vegetables:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (12 oz.) package broccoli coleslaw mix

1 zucchini, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 cubed, cooked chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place spaghetti squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until squash is tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Shred squash meat using a fork and discard the peel.

Combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chili-garlic sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, ginger, sesame oil and black pepper together in a saucepan; bring to a boil.

Whisk water and cornstarch together in a bowl until smooth; add to broth mixture and continue boiling until sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; sauté broccoli slaw, zucchini, red bell pepper, green onion, cilantro and shredded spaghetti squash until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chicken and sauce to squash mixture; cook and stir until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Delicious!

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

2-20-ounce packages (2-1/2 pounds) pre-cut butternut squash (if using fresh squash, you’ll need one large squash or 7-8 cups cubed)

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

7 cups water

1 Tablespoon salt

2 Tbsp. sugar, plus more if necessary

1/2 cup heavy cream

Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients except for the heavy cream in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 35 minutes.

Using a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until silky smooth. (Alternatively, cool the soup slightly, then purée in a blender in batches, making sure to leave the hole in the lid open to allow the steam to escape.) Stir in the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning (depending on the sweetness of the vegetables, you may need up to a tablespoon more sugar).

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped thyme or thyme sprigs, if desired.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

 

 

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