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Squash: A Fall Treat

By Uncle Paul

In the great Northwest you have the Sasquash, summer squash, and winter squash. In our rich volcanic soils, summer squash and winter squash grow extremely well and we are lucky to have them so plentiful.

Summer squash is eaten early in an immature state and is divided into four groups: crookneck, straightneck, scallop, and zucchini. Summer squash is great eaten raw, steamed, sautéed, or added to any pasta sauce or soup. I love them breaded and deep-fried. I have to admit squash is one of my most favorite summer crops.

Later in the season come the winter squashes. Harvested in autumn, they can be kept for months thanks to their thick, hard shells. Besides their later harvest date, winter squash also differs from their summer cousins in that usually only the flesh is eaten. They range in flavors from very mild to distinctly nutty, with varying degrees of sweetness. Winter squash includes many incredible varieties including the pumpkin. Did you know winter squash is primarily a New World vegetable? The vegetable responsible for preventing the starvation of the pilgrims during their first winter in America was the pumpkin. America owes a lot to winter squash.

Here are some of my favorites:

Butternut Squash: The lovely buff exterior covers a rich, sweet salmon-colored flesh. The tough shells make them ideal for long-term storage if kept in a dark, dry, cool spot all winter. Nothing is more delicious than butternuts split down the middle, then drizzled with a bit of maple syrup and baked until tender.

Delicata Squash: Also called sweet potato squash. The skin is creamy white with dark green striation along the ribs. The dark orange flesh is sweet and rich, fine-textured and dry. It is excellent for baking. Cut it lengthwise and lightly rub it with olive oil.

Hubbard Squash: Hubbards come in green or baby blue and both types are excellent. The meat is thick and rich and finely grained with rich, sweet golden flesh.

Pasta Spaghetti Squash: Spaghetti squash is a large oval fruit that is light yellow to cream in color. When fully cooked the flesh is sweet, light and buttery, the perfect foundation for fresh tomato sauce, or your favorite pasta sauce. The flesh is also stringy and looks like spaghetti when you scoop it out.

Uchci Red Kuri Winter Squash: From the West comes this teardrop-shaped winter squash with brilliant crimson-orange skin. The flesh is dry, meaty, and sweet, and they average five to seven pounds. Red kuris are perfect for one meal, since each squash serves two to four people nicely. The seed cavity is ideal for stuffing.

Sweet Dumpling: It is becoming one of the more appreciated winter squashes. The sweet dumpling is a wonderful name for this squash. It is small, about three to four inches and has a globe shape. It is a creamy ivory white, green striped squash. Weighing only about seven ounces, it has sweet and tender orange flesh and is a great size for stuffing and baking as individual servings. It stores well for up to four months.

Acorn or Danish Squash: This deeply furrowed squash with dark-green skin and pale orange to yellow flesh is one of my favorite baking squashes. Slice it into halves and fill it with butter and honey, then sprinkle it with cinnamon and nutmeg for a warming delicious treat. There is a white and orange acorn variety.

Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A, and a very good source of vitamin C, folate, and other B vitamins (except B12), potassium, and fiber. Orange-fleshed varieties are particularly excellent sources of beta-carotene. They are cholesterol free, low in fat and calories and very low in sodium. The deeper the orange color, the bigger the dose! Our bodies convert beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin, vision, and bone development and maintenance. Winter squashes are one of the most nutritious vegetables, rivaling cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and spinach.

When it comes to warm, nourishing foods, winter squash is on the top my list. With so many varieties, each with its own look, taste, and texture, winter squash offers much more than ornamental value. So as the weather turns colder and the holidays approach, it’s a great time to explore nature’s bounty of winter squash. They are an incredible value for the money. Decorate your table with winter squash, then eat and enjoy your wonderful decorations.

Uncle Paul, along with his wife Calla, owns Uncle Paul’s European Style Open Air Produce Market,
2310 SE Hawthorne

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