Celebrate the Season with Squash

While squash may be intimidating for first time users, it is easy-to-prepare, affordable, and nutritionally exceptional. It’s also widely produced across Nova Scotia.

When you purchase squash make sure to choose those that are firm and heavy for their size, have bright and glossy exteriors, and are free of nicks, bruises or soft spots. With proper storage, winter squash can be kept up to three to six months. Squash does not need refrigeration, and a shelf in a cool, dark basement is often the best place to store it. To avoid early spoilage, don’t cut or wash any squash that you wish to keep for long periods of time, as the extra moisture can promote spoilage.

Depending on the recipe, peeling may not be necessary. Simply cut your squash in half, scoop out the seeds, lightly coat the inside with olive oil and bake it for about 40 minutes in the oven at 350˚F. Keep the seeds, as they can be cleaned and roasted in the oven and used for snacks or added to soups or baked goods like breads and muffins.

Squash is an extremely good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. It is also low in energy and fats, so you do not have to worry about consuming too much of it. A cup of baked butternut squash contains only 87 calories and provides you with more than your daily requirement of vitamin A. It also contains half of the vitamin C that you need in a day and is rich in potassium, manganese, folate, iron and calcium. Nutrients are affected by cooking time and the methods used. Steaming small cubes of squash for 7 minutes is one the best ways to retain nutrients. Keep in mind, that adding liquids will reduce the amount of vitamin C and folate, which are water-soluble vitamins. If boiling, keep the cooking liquid, and incorporate it in other recipes.

GARLICKY BAKED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Serves 6

2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the parsley, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add squash and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased shallow 2-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 50-55 minutes or until squash is just tender.

ROASTED MISO SQUASH

1 butternut squash, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp tamari
2 Tbsp honey
1 heaping Tbsp miso
2 Tbsp lemon juice
5 Tbsp water

1 cup of chick peas (amount flexible)
1 cup of green beans (amount flexible)
1/2 cup thinly sliced cabbage (amount flexible)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel and slice the squash. Toss with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and roast for 40 minutes (check on them at the 20 minute mark and flip).

While the squash is cooking, mix together the remaining sesame oil, molasses, tamari, honey, miso, lemon juice and water in a large bowl. Add the chick peas, green beans and cabbage (or other vegetables of your choosing) to marinate. Set aside until the squash is done.

Mix the roasted squash with the vegetable marinade mixture and bake in a casserole dish for 30 minutes, until much of the liquid has boiled off. Serve as a side dish or over rice. It would also be good topped with greens or nuts.

Many of our pumpkin recipes work equally well with other types of squash. You can check them out here.

Updated from posts originally published in 2012

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