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Cooking The Bounty of the Harvest


By clairelaine on Sep 25, 2009 12:00 PM in Recipes

The first day of autumn arrived this past week.  In many parts of the world, this is the time to harvest vegetables and grains that took all summer to ripen.  We think of winter squashes, wheat and other grain-based dishes, apples and hardy greens.  A fall menu that incorporates the things that grow on local farms provides us with amazingly delicious meals and superior nutrition. 

Look at the wide variety of hard-shelled winter squash now available.  There was a time when all we saw in stores were acorn and butternut squashes. If you wanted a Hubbard squash or turban squash, you grew it yourself.  Now we have an array to chose from. 

In an About.com article, Winter Squash Varieties, we learn about many of them and the characteristics of each. 

Squashes with yellow or orange flesh provide us with over 100% of the Daily Requirement of beta carotene (vitamin A).  They are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and also have good amounts of B vitamins and Omega 3 fats.  Beta carotene is an important phytonutrient, thought to protect against colon cancer and reduce the severity of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. 

When selecting winter squash, it's important to inspect the skin for any breaks or nicks.  If the skin is intact, these squash will keep much longer than most vegetables.  Butternut squash is especially long storing and can be kept at cool room temperature for at least a month.  Other varieties may be more delicate and will need refrigeration. 

Preparation is easy, but you will need a sharp knife to cut raw squash into pieces.  An easy way to deal with the hard skin and dense flesh is to bake or microwave it whole until soft, then scoop out the seeds and remove the skin.  Pierce the squash near the stem to allow steam to escape.  Cooked squash is delicious pureed and seasoned in a variety of ways. 

Baked stuffed squash is a popular dish.  You'll need a squash with a larger seed cavity, so use acorn squash or the pretty, oval shaped delicata.  Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. 

This week we feature several kinds of squash and an interesting variety of recipes, all from Calorie Count members. We have also included whole grains, either served with the squash or separately.    We searched for these recipes using the Recipe Browser, which is fun in itself.  Since the recipes are entered directly into the Recipe Analyzer by members, if you have a question about any of these recipes, please do ask.



Also on About.com

Asparagus 101

Read More »

Comments


Here are the recipes featured in the newsletter

Arabian Squash Casserole

A touch of Middle Eastern cuisine, Arabian Squash Casserole is good served with Tabouli Salad or with warmed pita bread and Spinach Salad with ripe tomatoes... continue reading

 

Spaghetti Squash with Balsamic Beans

Colorful and delicious, this dish can be a whole meal... continue reading

 

Butternut or Winter Squash Soup

Silky smooth, this warm fall soup is low cal and good for you... continue reading



I have found that if you bake or microwave your squash a better alternative to brown sugar is cherry tomatoes.  If you cook them in the cavity, the flavor is amazing.  The juices from the tomatoes soften the squash and make your dish full of unbeatable flavor and aroma.



Both winter squash and cherry tomotoes are available at our Farmers Market.  Looking forward to trying this combo over the weekend.  Thanks for the tip!



Original Post by: camibednarek

I have found that if you bake or microwave your squash a better alternative to brown sugar is cherry tomatoes.  If you cook them in the cavity, the flavor is amazing.  The juices from the tomatoes soften the squash and make your dish full of unbeatable flavor and aroma.


That does sound tasty and unique.  I'll try it too. 



In my opinion - forget recipes!! Take an acorn squash cut it in half, put it in the microwave cut side down in a microwaveable dish with a tiny amount of water to steam. When it is tender, put in a bowl right in the skin, toss in a pat or two of Smart Balance and enjoy. I just bought at a local farm 20 of these puppies and I'm good to go. I can make a meal out of one of these.  I look forward to Fall just for the squash. (And of course, it's great snuggling weather!)



Original Post by: camibednarek

I have found that if you bake or microwave your squash a better alternative to brown sugar is cherry tomatoes.  If you cook them in the cavity, the flavor is amazing.  The juices from the tomatoes soften the squash and make your dish full of unbeatable flavor and aroma.


We're going to try this.  My friend just gave us a whack of cherry tomatoes from her garden.  Thanks for the tip.



I decided to make an acorn squash as a side dish for a chicken dinner.It was really easy to make. I just split it into halves and then cleaned out the guts, (seeds& goo) I used a little light butter and baked it for around 40 minutes.It was sooo good, high in vitamin A also. A very sweet squash.



Comment Removed

Don't forget about those wonderful seeds.  We always clean the seeds (as you do with pumpkin) salt them and microwave them.  It takes between 2 and 3 minutes but watch them carefully.  You don't get too many from a squash but they are really good.



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