I know it’s been radio silent over here but I can’t be doling out winter squash (aka those saran-wrapped orange chunks more threatening than bricks found in today’s CSA harvest) without providing you all with some moral support. This is a new variety for our farm called “Lower Salmon River Winter Squash” that we are growing for seed. Prior to preparing it for you, we cut them open and scoop out the seeds. This allows us to both provide for the CSA while also yielding a new product for the seed catalog. We are also trying to avoid overwhelming you all by giving everyone their own 20-pound brick to lug home and gawk at.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with winter squash, don’t be alarmed. The flavor of these babies falls somewhere in between butternut and acorn squash, and all you need to turn this into a delicious and hearty dish is a working oven, a sharp knife and some time. The easiest way to prepare winter squash is to first roast it in the oven on low heat with the skin on. After that, all you need to do is scoop it out of the skin and enjoy it directly or incorporate it into other dishes such as soups, raviolis, mashes or savory tarts. If you’ve got a real sharp knife and patience, you can skin it before you roast it but I find that to be very time consuming and frustrating especially with such thick skinned specimens as these. Here is an easy recipe for roasted winter squash:
- Preheat oven to 300 F
- If already seeded, chop winter squash into smaller wedges or chunks (skin on) and place into a large oven safe dish
- Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and any herbs you prefer. I like to use thyme.
- Bake until tender, at least one hour but sometimes longer depending on the thickness of the chunks.
- Remove skin before eating
I find that if you spread winter squash preparation out over a day or two and fit it into your schedule as it makes sense, it becomes much less of a waiting game and therefore more satisfying once ready to eat. For example, I’ll bring home my chunks after work, chop them and stick them in the oven for an hour or two, making sure to shut the oven off before I head to bed. The next morning, I pull them out of the oven and put them in the fridge. The following evening when I’m preparing dinner, they are ready and willing to incorporate into your meal.
Try pairing it with poblano chilis and onions (also found in today’s share) in a stir fry or if you’re feeling so fancy, a savory tart. Or throw some chopped carrots, leftover celery stalks, onions, chicken stock and parsley sprigs into the soup pot, cook them down, add the winter squash and puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Before serving, throw in some chopped beet greens to wilt down and you’ve got yourself a beautiful squash soup.
Have fun, go nuts, it’s fall!