Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: It’s squash time in the Okanagan

Crisp fall weather means it's time for some tasty squash that can be turned into many dishes, both savoury and sweet

  • Oct. 16, 2013 11:00 a.m.

Fall days with sunshine and crisp weather surround me with amazingly rich colours of reds, oranges, yellows, mingled with some green; I love this time of year.

The busy days of summer are behind me and I relish the quietness around the lake and in the woods nearby. Falling leaves bring wonderful memories from childhood of leaping into great piles of maple leaves and burying ourselves under the splendour of colour just for the fun of it. I’m sure Dad wasn’t so thrilled with our antics, as he did the raking (I never heard him complain though). To this day hearing the crunch as I walk through fallen leaves along a sidewalk, brings a quiet feeling of nostalgia and peace. It is a royal time of year, where there’s time for contemplation and so much to be thankful for.

All the fall squashes, potatoes, apples and other fall fruits and vegetables are now ready for us to enjoy. Today I have a delicious squash and apple casserole, perfect for any fall meal, as well as a wonderful pumpkin soup that will surprise you with its yummy flavour. Enjoy.

Squash and Apple Bake

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 apples, peeled and sliced

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

TOPPING:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

3/4 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1-3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350°F.  Combine base ingredients and spoon into buttered 1-1/2 qt (1.5 L) casserole dish.

For topping, combine flour, brown sugar and oats in medium bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle over squash-apple mixture. Bake 35 to 40 minutes.

Spiced Pumpkin

and Bacon Soup

1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil

7 oz. (200 g) onions, sliced

3 lbs. (1.3 kg) pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, and cut into chunks

4½ oz. (125 g) extra-trimmed smoked back bacon, diced

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 pint (7 fl oz. /750 mL) vegetable stock

Salt and black pepper to taste

Sprigs of fresh coriander for garnish

Crusty bread rolls (optional)

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Stir to coat them with oil, then cover and cook them over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until they start to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add the pumpkin, bacon and cumin to the pan. Stir, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, raise the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Purée the soup with a hand-held mixer or in a food processor.  Season to taste, garnish with coriander and black pepper, and serve, accompanied by a crusty bread roll, if you like.

Variation: If fresh pumpkin is unavailable, use 15 oz. (425 g) canned, unsweetened pumpkin, usually found on supermarkets’ canned fruit shelves.

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