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Health & Medical

BEYOND TRIM – Squash: Living in the pumpkin’s shadow

Looking for tasty and nutritious recipes? Go buy some gourds

Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center
Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

Pumpkins are ubiquitous at this time of year. Whether decorating the front step or appearing in seasonal menus as bread, pies, bars, etc., it seems you can’t turn around without encountering some version of the popular orange gourd.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of pumpkin in all forms, but I think that its popularity has overshadowed other squash varieties of which I am equally as fond.

There are so many different squashes, and each can be transformed into wonderful, seasonal dishes.

Most people are familiar with common varieties such as butternut squash and acorn squash. Some of my favorite recipes using these are the simplest, like roasting acorn squash halves in the oven and drizzling them with a little maple syrup to serve.

I also make butternut squash soup every year at this time, and recently I made a delicious Southwestern-inspired soup that featured butternut squash and corn flavored with chipotle.

Another popular variety is spaghetti squash. It’s called that because once cooked, the flesh of the squash separates into long delicate strands that can easily replace traditional pasta in recipes.

If you would like to try a super-simple recipe, I will be posting one that can be made entirely in the slow cooker at whatscookingcgh.wordpress.com in the near future.

Some of the more exotic squash varieties you might see in stores and at your local farmers market include Hubbard, Delicata, Patty Pan, and the bluish-green Kabocha, to name just a few.

Don’t hesitate to pick up one of these and take it home with you. Most will taste wonderful if simply cut into slices or chunks and roasted in the oven.

Several years ago, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” in which she talks about trying to serve soup in a hollowed-out squash. Her description of trying to get the squash to cooperate with her butchering efforts is hilarious.

It’s true that some varieties have tough hides, and it can be challenging to cut them open. I have found with many types of squash that microwaving them for a few minutes helps soften them up and makes cutting them a little easier. Make sure to poke several holes in various places to ensure the squash does not explode.

All squash are a good source of vitamins and fiber. They can be stored for long periods of time, which makes them perfect at this time of year when they can serve a dual purpose: serving as your fall decorations until you get around to devouring them!

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