Squash, ah yes, the essence of winter cuisine. But how well do we really know our winter delicacy? With so many to choose from, here is the lowdown on the different varieties, how to prepare them, nutritional info and a few recipe ideas.
Winter squash comes in many different flavours, colours, sizes and shapes, but one thing is consistent: the flesh is yellow to deep orange, fibre-rich and sweet, with an inedible skin.
Here are the most common varieties:
There are two kinds, each with its unique shape. One looks like a parachute, whereas the other looks more like a crown. It has a thick skin, can be green or orange, and weighs about 1 kg. The flesh is smooth, sweet and dense.
These ones are large, bumpy and oval, ranging from dark greens to vibrant reds to blue. Its flesh is dry, thick, and not very sweet. This large variety weighs in at an impressive 5kg.
Pumpkin is a Fall favourite – one that shouldn’t just be used out of the can. Luscious orange and not as meaty as other squashes, the best eating pumpkins are the smaller varieties.
One of the most popular varieties, this pear shape variety has a smooth skin and is cream in colour. Its best to eat when about 25cm long and 10cm wide. It also boasts one of the highest beta-carotene amounts, with a sweet and very deep orange flesh.
The acorn shaped squash is smooth with thick ridges and dark green with a hint of orange. It’s tastiest when about 12cm in height and 20cm across, and has a delicate, nutty flavour.
Brighter yellow in colour, spaghetti squash has a mild, nutty flavour that is less starchy than it’s other winter friends. It’s name comes from the texture; once cooked, the flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands.
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How to cook it
Basic methods start and end the same:
- Cut squash in half, remove the seeds.
- Use a knife to check for doneness; the squash will be too hot to handle
- Scoop out of the skin; the skin is inedible
But in between, follow these directions for…
… The microwave
- Cook on maximum for about 10 minutes, depending on size. It may take up to 20 minutes.
… The stove
- Immerse in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, until tender.
… The oven
- Baste with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake at 350º F oven for 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the pieces and the variety of squash.
Winter squashes are nutritional powerhouses. Here is just a sample of what they provide:
- Loads of fibre: 1 cup of squash contains over 5 grams
- Ample vitamin A: the same serving delivers about 150% of our daily intake
- Good supply: it is a good source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese
- Also includes: folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper.
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