Don't be Bored, Try a Gourd
Squash is among the bounty of foods bequeathed to the world
by the Native Americans. There are over 700 varieties of squash, several
dozen of which are cultivated widely all over the world. Squashes belong
to the same family as gourds, melons and cucumbers. They include summer
squashes such as zucchini, crookneck, and patty pan, and the winter squashes
such as acorn, buttercup, butternut, Hubbard, pumpkins, and turban are the
most common types now available.
The word squash comes from the Narragansett and Iroquois words askut-asquash
and isquoutersquash which mean, "eaten raw or uncooked,"
though that culinary tradition has fallen out of fashion with this family
Squash is a trailing or climbing vine with large leaves and large, generally
yellow, flowers. The part most commonly eaten is the round, seed-filled
fruit called the pepo. Squash flowers are also edible. Winter squash is
a very good source of vitamin A and other carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants
and protect against carcinogenic cell damage and blood vessel cell damage.
A good winter squash packs a sweet wallop of flavor. They have a dark yellow
to orange flesh and a thick rind. The sweetest squashes are generally those
with the deepest colored flesh. When stored in a dry, cool area, a winter
squash keeps into the spring. Summer squash is a good source of vitamin
C, and both types are moderately good sources of magnesium and potassium.
Though individual squashes vary, a typical analysis of the dry components
of squash runs 10.5% fiber, 65.5% carbohydrates, 9.0% protein & only
1/2% fat. Winter squashes are exceptionally high in complex-carbohydrates
and are said to be medicinal for diabetics and those with digestive problems.
Squash in its many myriad forms is quite popular from stuffed zucchini to
pumpkin pie to baked butternut to steamed crookneck. Enjoy the bountiful
harvest of these versatile vegetables as when we move into the colder, winter
Varieties of Winter Squash
Butternut, one of the most popular varieties,
is pear-shaped, with a light brown skin, yellow flesh, and inedible seeds
clustered in its bulbous base. Butternuts weigh from 2 to 5 pounds each.
Delicata is shaped like a grooved watermelon with creamy-yellow
mottling and dark-green stripes. Some claim it tastes like sweet corn, others
liken it to sweet potatoes.
Turban really does look like a turban. It comes in all sizes,
some large enough to hollow out and use as a soup tureen. (Note: make sure
you haven't inadvertently poked a hole in the skin before you pour hot soup
into its depths.) Smaller varieties can be used as table decorations. Buttercup
is a variety of turban squash, although it does not look like one.
Acorn is one of the most familiar squashes. A favorite way of
cooking it is to halve it horizontally, and fill the emptied seed cavity
with apple sauce and maple syrup. Like all winter squashes, it is best served
with spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Golden nugget is shaped like a small pumpkin and has a pronounced
Hubbard squashes weigh up to 12 pounds; with their knobby green
skins, they look as though they might have been kissed by a frog. Inside,
the flesh is a brilliant orange. Its taste, when cooked, is mild and pleasant,
proving again the old adage about not judging a squash by its warts.
Sweet dumpling is a diminutive pumpkin-shaped ball with dark-green
striations interspersed with mottled white skin. Most weigh about half a
pound and can be stuffed.
Spaghetti squash really can substitute for spaghetti because
when cooked, the yellowish flesh separates into long, thin, translucent
strings that resemble pasta, but with many fewer calories. Even so, children
may ask for more.
Spaghetti Squash with Garlic
Festive Rice Stuffing
- Cut in half and steam 1 large spaghetti squash upside down in a steamer
on medium heat for 40 minutes. Heat a large skillet and add a couple tablespoons
of olive oil, 3 to 6 cloves finely chopped garlic
and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Scoop the squash out of its skin, pulling
it into strands. Add it to the garlic and toss. Add 2 Tbs. chopped parsley
and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss again and serve.
- Cook 1 cup organic short grain brown rice,
1 cup organic brown basmati rice, 1/2 cup Ankeny Lakes wild
- Chop & stir fry in olive oil: 1 lb
of mushrooms (wild are great), 1 cup filberts, 4
or 5 cloves garlic, one large onion, 3 stalks celery, 1 chopped red or green
pepper, 12 black olives. Fry lightly then add 1/2 cup raisins or currants,
1 cup frozen or canned corn (optional).
- Mix rice with other ingredients, add 1 lb soysage, tofu or seitan
(smashed up), 2 tsp. poultry seasoning, a splash of tamari, juice of one
lemon & 1/4 cup white wine. Place stuffing in casserole pan or in a
lightly steamed squash and bake 30 - 40 min. in medium oven.
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ResSeguie Last update: June 11, 1996