Satisfying Squash Recipes for Fall
When it comes to squash, I prefer simplicity. My favorite St. Louis restaurant (Annie Gunn’s in nearby Chesterfield, Mo.) serves colorful cubed orange butternut squash as a side to its incredible bone-in filet. The squash is simply sautéed in a bit of butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. My friend, Elizabeth, prefers olive oil and a bit of Italian seasoning. And if you check the frozen vegetable section at your favorite grocery store, you’ll find squash available in cube form – the hard part of cutting and paring has been done for you.
Whether you choose to cut your own squash or buy it ready-to-go, you’ll benefit from a lot of great nutrition. Squash contains few calories but many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A. The earthy, mellow-tasting winter squash offers an amazing number of varieties that come in all shapes and sizes.
The acorn squash – named for its shape – comes in dark green hues and has become popular for its moist, rich-orange flesh. The large, pear-shaped butternut may look different with its pale orange skin and uneven hourglass shape, but it actually resembles acorn in both flavor and consistency. The odd-shaped buttercup, which looks like a tiny pumpkin crossed with an acorn squash, and turban squash, which almost seems to be two stacked squash in one, both have orange flesh and taste exceptionally sweet. Other varieties include sugar pumpkins and golden nugget squash. The oblong spaghetti squash offers an alternative to pasta with its mild yellow flesh that can be pulled out in noodle-like strands after cooking.
I find it best to prepare squash in a way that concentrates its flesh and flavor. Baking remains the easiest way – cut the squash in two, scoop out the seeds and put the halves on a tray or baking pan. In a 350-degree oven, it can take an hour or more to get tender, depending on the size. The cooked flesh can then be mashed, pureed into soups or used in pie filling. You can also opt to use squash as a serving dish. Simply cook the squash as above, and then insert your cooked filling of choice in each half for a pretty presentation. (Be careful, as the squash is very hot coming directly from the oven.)
I have presented a few recipes to get you started – a soup, a side dish and a sweet dessert. Most important, don’t be intimidated by the tough exterior. You’ll find the flavorful inside worth the effort. With all the following recipes, frozen squash can be used to make the recipes easier.