What’s the deal with Winter Squash?

We’ve all seen them in the grocery store – bumpy, rough, and strangely shaped. Though odd to look at and often intimidating to buy, winter squash is a delicious vegetable to incorporate into your meals as the leaves turn colors and the weather turns chilly – or snowy, if you live in Montana. Winter squash are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and fiber. They are also good sources of Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2, folate, Vitamin K, and a variety of minerals. One of the benefits of eating squash beyond the nutrient benefits is that they are lower in calories, but still filling and delicious. Substituting winter squash into certain meals and recipes can help reduce the caloric content in the meal, as well as increase your vegetable intake. Winter squash is in season here in Montana in the months of September through December, so it is the perfect time to try it out!

Here are some recipes featuring a variety of winter squash to get you started!

Moroccan Lentil Stew with Acorn Squash

Makes: 8 servings (1.5 cups/serving)

  • 2 pounds acorn squash, peeled, seeds removed and diced (about 4 cups diced)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (28 oz) can no-salt added, diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups. Dry green lentils, rinsed well
  • ¾ cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Prepare the acorn squash; cut it in half vertically. Remove the seeds with a spoon and discard. Remove the peel with a knife or vegetable peeler. Cut squash into 1 in. dice and reserve.
  2. In a heavy-duty large pot or Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium hihgh heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Stire in cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Let cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before adding in acorn squash, vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, and lentils.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low or medium to simmer. Cover with lid and cook until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

 

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Delicata Squash

Makes: 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ pounds Delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, cored, then cut into ½ inch moons
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 400F.
  2. Place squash moons in a medium sized bowl and pour olive oil on top. Add salt and garlic and toss to coat. Transfer squash to a baking sheet and spread out so it’s in a single layer and there are no overlapping moons. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping half way, until squash is soft and nicely browned.
  3. Sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley; serve immediately.

 

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup

Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • A half a large kabocha squash, seeded (about 3 to 4 pounds for the half)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped or sliced onions
  • 2 ribs of celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Garnish with lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

1 Roast the squash: Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a heavy chef’s knife or cleaver cut the kabocha squash half into a few large pieces. Scoop out the seeds and stringy insides. Place the squash pieces on a foil or silpat lined roasting pan. Rub olive oil over all sides, and sprinkle with salt. Put the squash pieces skin side up on the pan. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until completely cooked through, soft, and caramelized at the edges. Remove from oven and let sit.

  1. Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a large (4 to 6 quart) thick-bottomed pan. Add the onions and celery. Lower the heat to medium and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, and coriander and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Once squash is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Place the roasted kabocha squash flesh into the pot with the onions and celery mixture. Add the stock, salt and pepper. Increase heat to high to bring the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat to low, partially cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Use an immersion blender (or work in batches with a standing blender, only filling the blender bowl 1/3 of the way each time) to purée the soup. Add more salt to taste. Sprinkle with lime juice and chopped cilantro to serve.

 

Pasta with butternut squash sauce, sausage, and spinach.

Makes: 5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 11 oz (4 links) spicy chicken Italian sausage
  • 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 10 oz pasta, wheat or gluten-free
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 4 sage leaves, sliced thin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft.
  2. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and place in a blender, blend until smooth.
  3. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente, reserving at least 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, sauté sausage over medium heat until browned, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, set aside on a plate.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and melt the butter, sauté the onions and garlic until soft and golden, about 5 – 6 minutes.
  6. Add pureed butternut squash, season with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little of the reserved pasta water (I used about 1 cup) to thin out the sauce to your liking.
  7. Add baby spinach and stir in Parmesan cheese and sage. Toss in cooked pasta and sausage and mix until well coated.
  8. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese on the side if desired.

 

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

This homemade puree can be used as a cheap, healthier alternative to canned pumpkin puree to make pumpkin bread, pies, and other desserts.

  • 1 sugar pumpkin

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Rinse off your pumpkin, then use a knife to stab the hard outer shell a few times, to allow for ventilation.
  3. Place the whole pumpkin in a glass baking dish, and transfer to the oven to roast for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin. The pumpkin is ready when the flesh is darker, and the skin can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Cut the pumpkin in half, and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes, until cool enough to handle.
  5. Use a large spoon to scrape out the seeds, and reserve them for another use.
  6. The skin should peel off very easily at this point, so remove the skin and transfer chunks of the cooked pumpkin into a food processor. Blend until a smooth puree is formed. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pumpkin.
  7. Store the pumpkin puree in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, and use it in your favorite pumpkin recipes! You could also freeze it to extend its shelf life indefinitely.