An absolute beauty of a vegetable, unfortunately squash doesn’t even make the top ten list of the most consumed vegetables. Yet, winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, kabocha, spaghetti squash…) is more than worthy. It’s a great source of vitamins, fibre and deliciousness, practically as versatile as potatoes. It’s local in Canada and although available all year long, it’s in season and at it’s peak from September through December. Store it in a cool, dark place – doesn’t have to be in the fridge until cooked.
Do not Fear: Six Delicious Ways to Use Squash
- Roast it to use as a side dish. To make life easier, use this HACK: Slice the top and bottom off of a whole squash, poke it to make a few holes, microwave for about 2-3 minutes, then enjoy easy peeling and chopping compared to fearing for your life (or at least the safety of your hand) with the hard skin of squash and a sharp knife. Acorn squash is delicious roasted in halves (at 400 degrees F for about 40 minutes) and served with a drizzle of maple syrup or balsamic vinegar. It can also be cut into wedges, drizzled with a little olive or canola oil and sea salt then roasted for about 30 minutes, flip it over half way through roasting. Make clean up easier by lining the baking pan with parchment paper before roasting. (Squash halves or large chunks will take longer to roast than small cubes.)
- Sub spaghetti squash for regular spaghetti noodles. Simply roast the squash halves then scoop out the “noodles”. This cuts the calories in a pasta dish by 85% (30 calories/cup of spaghetti squash versus 220 calories/cup of regular spaghetti noodles). Another delicious idea is to roast the halves topped with tomato sauce, basil and feta for lasagna-like deliciousness.
- Toss squash cubes into a salad. Peel and cube squash, toss with olive or canola oil and sea salt and roast for about 25 minutes. Cool, then mix with leafy greens, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and a lemon-garlic vinaigrette. Cubes of roasted squash also go great in a breakfast burrito or curry dish.
- Puree into soup. Simply roast the squash cubes while sauteeing onion, garlic, celery and carrots in a little oil as a soup base. Add vegetable or chicken broth and herbs to the soup. Simply stir in the pureed cooked squash. HACK: use frozen cranberries as a pretty garnish that also functions to help cool hot soup when serving. Cranberry sauce is another delicious accompaniment to just about any roasted squash dish. Also local and in season at roughly the same time as squash, don’t reserve nutritious and attractive cranberries for Thanksgiving and Christmas only. HACK: freeze portions of leftover homemade cranberry sauce for a tangy addition to smoothies or warm oatmeal.
- Bake with squash. Use pureed cooked squash or pumpkin as you would applesauce for delicious muffins and loaves that aren’t dry. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger are squash’s dream teammates in fall season baked goods. Simply google pumpkin muffins for many delicious recipes.
- And don’t forget to use the seeds! They’re an excellent source of protein. Shelled pumpkin seeds, aka pepitas, have 9 grams of protein in just a quarter cup!!! (approx 200 kcal). Buy already shelled pumpkin seeds (known as pepitas) and toast for extra yumminess. If you’re so inclined, you can easily roast the whole seeds from pumpkin or any squash you like.
PS – Squash is a great source of vitamin E, vitamin A, fiber and B vitamins. Au naturel, it provides only 40 calories/100 g serving. Enjoy!
Watch these squash tips on CTV Morning Live Vancouver, October, 2016 here
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