|Summer Squash - yes you'll find them in your produce section, but it's really not their season.|
Ww – Winter Squash versus Summer Squash. Though I’ve never considered munching on summer squash poolside it does have its draws. For example, Summer Squash can make a splash by entering the ring dressed in a bright, yellow-fringed tutu-like skirt. The scalloped trim on this rather snappy, sometimes greenish-hued vegetable is thrilled to be eaten as part of veritable parade of colour in your favourite salad or sautéed with a mixture of like minded squash in a skillet of unsalted butter and fresh garlic or simply eaten raw as a crudité with more eye appeal than your average carrot or celery stick. Look for the name Pattypan Squash and you’ve found it!
In mid-June you’re also likely to find Cousa Squash nestled nearby the Pattypan. Some people mistake Cousa for green zucchini. I can see why they might assume Cousa to resemble a kind of runt of the litter, since it is shorter and squattier than your average zucchini. Adorned with the same various shades of green stripes running the length of this summer squash, Cousa boast a sweeter flavor than its relatives. The other two Summer Squash worth mentioning is the Eight Ball and the Zepher. The Eight Ball looks like a zucchini, same green colouring but the shape is exactly round, like a ball. But the real beauty among our summer time gourds is the Zepher. Don’t confuse her with Yellow Crookneck, Zephers are a bit longer than Crookneck, to whom they are related, as they are to Delicata and Yellow Acorn, but the long cylindrical shape is highlighted by the green tips at both ends capping off the yellow body. What I find so startling, is the colour differentials are so neatly separated! There isn’t any muddling of colours. Mother Nature is certainly talented.
But how do these thin-skinned, high water content squash with soft edible seeds stack up against our current in season Winter Squash? Well our hearty winter gourds, with their thick, tough rinds and usually large, inedible seeds, range in colour from dark forest green to deep yellow and orange, but all require cooking. Roast them, stuff them, puree them and add to your soups, stews or serve as a satisfying side dish, the possibilities in methods of preparation and service are limited only by your imagination.
|Winter Squash - just a sampling.|
I could almost do an entire alphabet of squash what with the wide variety of options available during these cold months. Beginning with Acorn all the way to those Zephers (which will likely be my Zz food item for this Blog) with Butternut, Hubbard, Kabocha and Spaghetti in between. But this week I’d like to focus on the beautifully accommodating Acorn Squash.
First off, when purchasing Acorn Squash, look for those that are mostly dark green in colour. Too much orange, as pretty as it is, means the flesh inside will be tough and fibrous. The squash should feel heavier than it looks when you pick it up. This is actually a trait you should look for when buying any type of squash.I happen to home sick with a serious head cold today so I have soup on my mind. And Acorn Squash Soup is one of my favourites. Rich and creamy, spiced with Garam Masala and a dollop of crème fraiche, served right in the hollowed out shell of the squash, it’s a healing antidote I yearn for right now. And I might just cook some for myself when I’ve finished writing, but the recipe I’d like to share with you is an adaptation of our friend Dave’s old family recipe. Now Dave grew up on the Eastern Seaboard and for those of you who grew up on the outskirts of the big cities know that maple syrup is either a staple ingredient in any recipe or is placed on the table as a condiment. It goes without saying maple syrup is a star ingredient in Dave’s Roasted Acorn Squash. He introduced me and the other members of our Supper Club group the Friends Amid Food to this hearty side dish about five years ago. Mark and Dave were the hosts for that month’s gathering and they went all out in sending invites, arranging the Tablescape and ensuring we were all committed to preparing dishes that played off their food theme.
|Mark - Isn't he cute? Look how happy he is with that Acorn Squash on his plate!|
Here's the adapted recipe, as I remember it. Dave if you see something terribly wrong let me know!
Roasted Acorn Squash With Maple Syrup
2 medium-sized acorn squash – cut top portion off and remove seeds
Olive oil to prepare pan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons good maple syrup
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Preparation Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1) Line cookie sheet with foil. Using your hands, rub olive oil over foil to prevent squash from sticking during roasting.
2) Set four squash halves on baking sheet and top each with ½ tablespoon of the butter, ½ tablespoon of the brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon of the nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt.
3) Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes until fork tender but not so soft shells might collapse.
4) When done, remove pulp and spoon into a large mixing bowl. Taste for additional seasoning, if needed. Once seasoning has been adjusted, spoon mixture back into the individual squash.
5) Drizzle 1 tablespoon (or two or three) of the maple syrup over each and return to oven baking for another 10-15 minutes until squash are golden brown.
Garnish each squash with chopped walnuts before serving.
Makes 4 4-ounce servings
|Me, Dave and Mark - Miss you guys!!!|