The bright green, yellow and white courgette, or summer squashes are slowly being replaced by the dusky green, bright orange and cream winter squashes.
Summer squashes, including various types of zucchini, pattypan and yellow crookneck, are normally picked young and the entire vegetable, including skin, is eaten. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and should be used within a few days to a few weeks of picking.
Winter squashes, including acorn, butternut, Hubbard, kabocha, pumpkin and spaghetti, are picked at full maturity, usually after the onset of cold weather but before a hard frost. They are then ‘cured’ (allowed to further ripen in the sun) to toughen the outer skin and can be stored for several months in a cellar or other cool place. Only the flesh and seeds of the winter squash is eaten, the tough skin being discarded as well as the fibrous center. The seeds can be cleaned, dried and toasted.
Winter squash were a staple part of the Native American diet, planted together with maize and beans; the beans climbing the cornstalks and the trailing squash plants providing shade for the roots and weed control. (It works well, I do the same in my garden.)
Winter squashes are very high in Vitamin A, 1 serving (1 cup, 200gr) providing 145% of the USDA value. They are also high in Vitamin C, potassium, manganese and dietary fiber.
And we never ate them when I was a child.
Except Pumpkin Pie.
Apparently my mother was not accustomed to eating or cooking squashes, either summer or winter. We were a ‘canned peas and carrots, green beans and corn’ family. The only vegetables she made fresh were carrots and rutabagas…. and green beans and sweet corn in summer.
My introduction into winter squashes didn’t happen until I was married. Mon mari loved acorn squash, cut in half, filled with butter and brown sugar, and baked.
Then came Pumpkin Bread. Like the pie, it was sweet, with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, and quickly became a holiday staple.
It was the inability to find canned pumpkin when we moved to Ireland, 12 years ago, that started my love affair with squashes. If I wanted pumpkin bread, it had to start with an actual pumpkin.
As you can see from the photo (above), our pumpkin is not the same as the type one carves a jack-o-lantern from.
Here is a more complete list of winter squashes…. But don’t believe their comment about pumpkins. My pumpkins are delicious!
And even one pumpkin can be a lot to eat!
Many recipes tend towards the sweet, sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg treatment of squashes, which is good…
But I’ve been trying to create more savory dishes.
Butternut Squash Soup made with chicken stock and sage, garnished with yogurt.
Autumn Pastry, made with butternut squash, wild mushrooms and ricotta cheese.
Or this simple starter I made for dinner last night.
My friend, Ulrike, of Kuchenlatein, is the host of this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.
Be sure to visit her blog on Monday – she always does a spectacular job with the round-up!
This event was founded by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, where you can find the archives for all of the wonderful, creative recipes for the past 148 weeks!
Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Cheese serves 2 as a first course
10oz (300gr) butternut squash
1/2 cup (1.5oz, 45gr) walnuts
10 – 12 fresh sage leaves
2oz (60gr) strong, semi-soft cheese
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
Slice butternut squash thickly, (.5″, 1.25cm) then cut into large pieces. Heat butter and oil in large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add walnuts and squash and sauté 10 – 15 minutes, until squash is nicely browned. Snip the sage leaves into large pieces and add for the last 2 – 3 minutes. Divide and put onto two plates. Cut cheese into cubes and arrange on top.
I used ‘Tomme’ cheese, which is a soft, pungent, cow and sheep’s milk cheese. Muenster would be a good choice, as well.
Who says you can’t fry squash…..