Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


Winter squash is as versatile as zucchini but very different

Squash with a thick shell (the better to make it stay edible longer) is appropriately called Winter Squash. There are many, many varieties but they all can be used more or less interchangeably. Pumpkins are a variety of winter squash as are butternut squash, hubbard squash, acorn squash, and many others. They all grow on vines, have flat seeds in their centers, ripen in the autumn, and are inexpensive and very nutritious. The more orange or yellow in color the flesh of the squash, the more vitamin A or carotene it holds.

From October until spring, I just make it practice to have one or two varieties of squash hanging out in my kitchen. They're interesting to look at and easy to prepare in a wide variety of ways. They are even quick to fix if you have a microwave. It is possible to make a quick meal by simply nuking first then stuffing a squash and throwing it in the toaster oven while you are tossing a salad and setting the table.

Winter squash can even be used to make a colorful pickle.


Squash with a Bit of a Bite

Pickled in a sweet, mellow vinegar mixture, these pickles go well with meats from beef to turkey. You can eat the pickles as soon as they cool or store in the refrigerator for as long as a month... Don't seal and save at room temperature as there is not enough acid to keep the pickles bacteria free for a long period. Makes 6 cups.

1 winter squash
4 cups seasoned rice vinegar or white vinegar
1 cup mirin or dry sherry
8 slices fresh ginger, about 1-inch or more in diameter
8 whole star anise

Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Pare the skin from squash and discard. Cut the flesh into 1/8-inch thick slices (about 6 cups); rinse squash. In a saucepan combine vinegar, mirin, ginger and anise. Bring to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Add squash and return to boiling over high heat. Pack spiced mixture into a jar. Let cool and serve, or cover and store in refrigerator.


Squash Steamed with Scallion Rings

If the scallions are done and gone, any mild onion will do. And, if you have no fresh limes use fresh lemon juice rather than canned lime. When you are using a variety of squash larger than a small acorn, double the other ingredients. Ah, yes, and if you would rather not use olive oil, there is always lovely butter to add flavor. Always remember, recipes are just ideas not commands. This makes 2 servings but it is easy to double or triple.

1 small acorn squash
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 scallion, finely chopped including stem

Halve squash lengthwise and discard seeds and strings. Use the ridges as a guide and cut squash lengthwise into sections. Arrange on a steamer rack in a saucepan, cover and cook until tender about 15 minutes or steam in your microwave. Whisk together in a bowl the lime juice, oil and salt and pepper. Place the cooked squash on plates or platter and drizzle with dressing; sprinkle with scallions. OR, place it under the broiler for a few moments for a few moments before serving. You can drizzle with dressing before or after broiling. Adding scallions last will keep them crunchy.


Squash Ragout with Bulgur Wheat

This would also be good served over other cereal grains such as rice, faro or quinola. If you don't have radicchio use one of its close relatives escarole or Belgian endive. (They are all part of the chicory family which means there is a hint of bitterness in their genes.) This makes 4 healthy servings.

1 1/2 pounds squash, about 1 large acorn squash
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 can (14+ oz.) chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 pound radicchio
1/3 cup red wine
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish

Cut squash in half through the stem. Scoop out the seeds and membrane with a large spoon and season the flesh with salt and pepper, to taste. Place squash halves in steamer or microwave and steam until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove and let cool a little. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and then add the onions and the bulgur. When the onion is translucent add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 1 cup of water and the salt. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook over low heat until bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes (the coarser the grinds; the longer the time). Meanwhile, quarter the radicchio through the core. Then trim out tough white core and cut leaves in 1/2-inch dice. Heat a little olive oil and cook leaves until wilted and darker in color. Add the red wine and remaining broth; bring to a simmer, cover and cook about 10 minutes, until very tender. When squash is cool enough to handle, peel halves and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place in skillet with radicchio, gently toss and simmer to reheat briefly (add a little water if needed). Season with salt and pepper and serve over the bulgur. Sprinkle with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.


Winter Squash with Maple Syrup and Balsamic Vinegar

Don't substitute red wine vinegar for balsamic, but you can use young (less expensive) balsamic. Makes 8 servings. Just great with steak or anything pork.

4 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons butter

Preheat oven to 360 F. Arrange squash halves, cut side up, in a baking pan that will hold about an inch of water. Combine remaining ingredients and divide between the 8 halves. Bake until squash is tender and lightly browned, about an hour. When you are in a rush nuke it and finish in the broiler.

Autumn and winter bring many good things!

Have you ever met anyone who didn't like apples?


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