Ode to a Winter Squash.
I look forward to Fall for many reasons – the cooler, crisp air; the beautiful colors of the changing leaves; a sense of new beginnings; cozy morning cups of tea; and…winter squash. They come round but once a year, those squashes, and I embrace their annual entrance to the supermarket! My local Kroger has been selling various winter squash for 79 cents per pound, and I’ve been taking advantage of it. Yeah, that adds up, considering how heavy those babies can get, but it’s worth the investment. If stored properly, your squash will stick around for 2 or 3 months, depending on the variety (here is a not terribly fun to read article about that subject). Right now, my store is selling the usual butternut and acorn variety, but they’re also peddling two types that I’ve never see before this year: turban and buttercup. Exciting! I decided to roast up one of the buttercups to see what I was dealing with.
Resembling a squat, green pumpkin, this buttercup had quite a heft to it, probably 3 or 4 pounds. And the inside, while still bearing that signature bright orange flesh, gooey guts, and flat, white seeds, was not exactly what I was expecting!
I guess I was thinking that there would just be a small, round cavity for the seeds, instead of the large, oblong one you see here. It makes sense, though, now that I think about it – it follows the shape of the outer contours. Anyway, I got to work scooping out the insides and chopping my squash into 8 equal portions, ready for roasting! I roasted this one the easy way, since I didn’t need the squash to be in perfect little cubes for my finished product. When all you want in the end is a puree, you can leave that skin on, and roast with no added fat – just line your baking sheet with parchment paper and place the squash skin side up right on top of that. I roasted this one at 425F for about 45 minutes, then took it off the pan to cool, before I scooped out the flesh for my puree.
Look at that lovely caramelization! About half of this squash went towards trying a new recipe for a mac and cheeze sauce, and it turned out fabulous. I’ll review it another time, though, because I simply made a double batch of the sauce and stuck it straight into the freezer for a future busy night. I froze the other half of the squash, too. After scooping all the flesh out with a spoon, it went straight into a freezer bag (where I kind of kneaded it to mush it up), then into the freezer. That way, when I want to make that (or another) sauce with a winter squash, I can just leave the frozen squash blob in the sink during the day to thaw, then whip it up when dinner time arrives! It will be good for other things, too, like soups, pizza sauce, or just a mash.
The best thing about all of the winter squash is that, though very different in outward appearance, they all taste just about the same, so you can substitute one for another very easily in a recipe. I will say, though, that butternuts are the easiest to peel and cube, since their skin is the smoothest. The rest are fair game, though! How do you enjoy your winter squashes?