By Jessica Roy It's everywhere from decor to the dinner table -- squash is inescapable this time of year. But what to do with it all? When you've got gourds coming out your ears (or really just want to embrace the season), whip out these handy tips for how to conquer that squash. These tips are generally for the hearty, firm winter squash varieties like butternut, acorn, hubbard, and pumpkin, although some will also lend themselves nicely to the tender summer types as well. The suggested recipes can be found at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/yourpersonalchef.
Possibly the most deliciously simple option, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy any and every variety of squash. Peel & halve the squash, and scoop out the seeds.
Cut into 1 1/2-inch diced cubes, and toss in a large bowl with a couple tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter. Sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs and salt and pepper. Spread the seasoned squash cubes on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Serve on salads, toss with pasta, or as is for a beautiful side dish.
Recipe idea: Gnocchi with Roasted Squash
Puree and save it
I recently got 3 large acorn squash in a farm share basket. One was large enough to feed four people (see "Stuff it" below). Rather than buying canned pureed squash or pumpkin later when I really need it, I decided to save one of these babies for later use as a pie, sauce, pasta dough or bread base etc.
Recipe ideas: Pumpkin Risotto, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Make it into soup
Roast one large squash using instructions above. Transfer the roasted squash to a soup pot along with 1 diced onion, and 2 cloves of garlic. Add four cups of stock, and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender right in the pot until smooth (or use a conventional blender, and pour back into the pot). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer over low heat for another 30 minutes. Serve with a Parmesan crisp, or with crusty grilled bread.
Recipe idea: Butternut Squash Leek Soup
A popular way to serve squash, this is your go-to method to use up any leftovers you've got in the fridge. A rule of thumb is to combine: 1 part ground or shredded meat, 1 part grain, 1 part sautéed veggies and / or beans (sub extra beans for vegetarian versions) for a delicious filling. All of the filling ingredients should be cooked ahead of time. Toss in a large bowl with 2 Tbs. of olive oil, and salt and pepper. For small squash, simply halve and scoop out the seeds and stringy insides. For larger squash, cut into quarters. Rub the inside of the squash with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange squash in a large baking dish, and bake for 15 minutes uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, scoop heaping amounts of the filling into each squash piece. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 more minutes, or until squash is tender. Remove the foil, and top each squash with cheese. Broil on high for 2-3 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.
Recipe idea: Stuffed Acorn Squash
Jessica Roy is a specialty chef and caterer, food writer and chef instructor, and owner of Shiso Kitchen in Somerville, where she teaches classes. Follow her at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/yourpersonalchef.