Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: It’s a game, it’s a verb, it’s a tasty vegetable

Winter or summer, squash is always in season and can be cooked up in a variety of delicious ways

  • Oct. 17, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Squash. What comes to mind? A game? How about a verb, as in, “I will squash you,” or maybe an adjective,” eating a squash pie,” or how about this fall, as a noun, as in “cooking squash” into delicious recipes.

Every part of the squash plant can be eaten, including the leaves and tender shoots, which can be cooked in omelets or made into soup. Squash types summer or winter are based on current usage, as summer squash are available all winter and the winter types are on the markets in the late summer and fall, as well as winter. Winter squash comes in shapes round and elongated, scalloped and pear-shaped with flesh that ranges from golden-yellow to brilliant orange. Most winter squashes are vine-type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. They take longer to mature than summer squash and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. They can be stored for months in a cool basement. Winter squash come in many shapes and colours. No two look exactly alike and varieties of winter squash may be substituted for each other in your many squash recipes. Winter squash is also packed with antioxidants and vitamins, has no fats, and can be prepared sweet or savoury.

Today I have a nice soup recipe and a one- meal spaghetti squash primavera  a friend gave me, for you to try. This fall is a good time to be creative and try different types of winter squash!

Curried Butternut

Squash Soup

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Red (cayenne) pepper to taste

2-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

3 cups water

1 pound tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat olive or vegetable oil. Add onion and sauté until golden brown. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add squash, vegetable or chicken stock, and water and cook until squash is tender. Remove from heat and let cool 15 to 20 minutes. Purée mixture in a blender or food processor, in batches, and transfer back into soup pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: At this point, soup may be refrigerated until ready to serve. To serve, warm over low heat, stirring until hot. Remove from heat and serve in soup bowls. Makes 6 servings.

Spaghetti Squash

Primavera

(vegetarian)

1 medium spaghetti squash

1/4 cup butter

2 medium onions, diced

1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced

1 small clove garlic, minced

1-1/2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup peas

1 medium zucchini, sliced

4 carrots, cut diagonally

1-1/2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup vegetarian chicken stock

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, (dried =1 tbsp.)

1 sweet red pepper, sliced

6 green onions, chopped

12 cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place cut-side down in a baking dish; add 1” of water and bake at 375 F for an hour. Test for doneness with a fork.

Melt butter in a large frying pan. Sauté onions, mushrooms and garlic until onions are soft. Add the broccoli, peas, zucchini, and carrots. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add cream and stock.

Quickly chop fresh basil and add. Stir. Boil briskly to evaporate the sauce a little (about 2 minutes). Add red pepper, green onions, cherry tomatoes and cheeses; heat thoroughly.

Using a fork, scrape strands of squash into a large hot, shallow casserole dish. Top immediately with the hot vegetable mixture. Serve with extra cheese as desired.

Delicious!

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