This time of year gourd squashes are literally everywhere. Colorful and some oddly shaped, they can be a little intimidating. Truth be told, my past experience with winter squash was limited to admiring the beautiful colors as I passed them in the store. I loved the taste of them, but the hard outside gourd was more than I wanted to deal with. Trust me they’re worth the work. Squash can be a blank canvas because they’re versatile enough to go in savory or sweet dishes. Though you can buy winter squash and some pumpkins year round now, there are certain varieties that are at the peak of their flavor from late September through November. These varieties are referred to as “winter squash”. They usually have a hard inedible outside rind similar to a pumpkin. They’re different from summer squash in that they are only eaten when the squash has matured.
What to look for when buying winter squash
1. Pick one with a smooth hard skin that doesn’t have spots, blemishes, or soft spots.
2. Make sure the stem is in place and firmly attached. This prevents bacterial contamination.
3. Skin should be deeply colored.
How to store them
1. Store in cool dry place for up to three months.
2. Don’t put them in the refrigerator. This will cause them to spoil faster.
3. Cooked squash can be frozen for months.
How to cook them
1. Roast – Cut gourd in half from stem to bottom and scoop out seeds. Put halves cut side down in baking dish. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 375 degrees or until easily pierced with a fork.
2. Microwave – Cut gourd in half and scoop out seeds from stem to bottom. Put halves cut side down in baking dish with about 1/4 cup water. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and microwave for 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Boil – Cut gourd in half and scoop out seeds from stem to bottom. Cut halves down the middle lengthwise. Cut flesh from skin and cut into chunks. Boil in water for 5 minutes.
4. Saute – Cut gourd in half and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and dice into small chunks. Saute in olive oil until soft.
Check out these recipes using great winter squash.
Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash at 101Cookbooks
Butternut Squash Risotto on simplyrecipes
Blue Hubbard Pie on The Spice Must Flow