Over the past couple weeks, I have heard several comments from people about how much they appreciate some of the “bonuses” of being apart of the CSA, which include the chance to learn how to cook some vegetable you may have never cooked with before – winter squash being a common one. Instead of having the choice to cook with what we prefer or what we may be used to from the supermarket, we have to deal with only what is ready to harvest from the field. Being able to provide you all with a better idea of how to cook some of these unfamiliar crops is what being apart of a CSA is all about!
Roasting Acorn Squash
You may want to eat your Acorn squash rather soon because they will not hold for much more than 4 weeks. Unlike most other winter squashes, the quality of Acorn squash does not increase after curing for a couple weeks. And remember, store all of your winter squash in a dry and cool place, never in the fridge (unless they have already been cooked of course).
Very similar to preparing Spaghetti Squash, you can cut the Acorn squash in half, remove all of the seeds and stringy bits, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then roast. Cut the squash with a large chef’s knife since they can be quite tough, and be sure to cut from the stem downwards. Rub the oil all over the cut surface and bowl of the squash, and place the cut-side up halves in a preheated oven of 375 degrees. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes; when finished the halves should be caramelized around the edges, and you should be able to easily poke a knife all the way through the flesh.
You may also want to add a few garlic cloves, or a scoop of brown sugar into the bowl of each squash half. Another option is to stuff each half with whatever you like; bread crumbs, shredded meat, leftover vegetables, cheese, etc…Here are a few things you can do with your roasted squash:
- Soup: Scoop all the flesh from the squash and either chop it into large chunks for a brothy soup, or puree it for a creamy soup.
- Casseroles: Layer the scooped squash into a lasagna or toss it into a casserole.
- Salads: Toss big chunks of the leftover squash in with salad fixings.
- Pasta: Squash and pasta is a great combination. Add some brown butter and sage to the mix.
- Put it in (or on) a crust: Squash-stuffed calzones. Squash-topped pizza. Squash-filled quesadillas…Very tasty recipes.
I have also been receiving some questions about how long butternut squash will last and what is the curing process all about. Curing is simply storing winter squash at a warm temperature with good air circulation for a period of time, usually 10 to 14 days. When you harvest winter squash, the mature fruits contain excess water. The process of curing squash allows some of that water to exit the fruit. Getting rid of excess water does several things:
- It concentrates the natural sugars, which makes the squash taste sweeter.
- It slows the fruit’s respiration rate, which enhances long-term storage.
- It helps reduce chances of rot.
During the curing process, the skin becomes harder, forming a protective layer over flesh. That harder skin slows respiration, which ultimately improves fruit keeping quality. Harder skin also resists rot better, another secret for problem-free long-term storage. Use fruits with broken stems first because any fruits with damaged stems will not store very well. Butternut squash can store for up to 6 months at 50 – 55 degrees F.
Here is a quick recipe for Caramelized Butternut Squash:
Total time: 1 hr 10 min Yields 6 – 8 servings
- 4 – 5 lbs worth of butternut squash, or 2 medium butternut squash,
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash. Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.
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