Winter squash are hard-skinned edible members of the gourd family. In contrast to tender, young summer squash, winter squash are harvested at a mature stage when the skins have grown hard. Packed with nutrients, winter squash is high in Vitamins A and C and niacin. Winter squash is also high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.
Though they have a range of flavors, most varieties can be substituted for one another in recipes. The one exception is spaghetti squash, which has uniquely textured flesh that pulls apart in slender strands.
Squash may be baked in its shell. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and place face down on a cookie sheet. Water may be added around the squash to avoid drying out and hasten cooking. The squash flesh may be basted with oil or butter. Cook until very tender. Acorn squash is very good baked face up with a little melted butter, brown sugar or syrup.
Spaghetti squash can be baked the same way. Bake until tender and when cool enough to handle, take a fork and begin to scrape at the squash flesh. The flesh will separate into strands. Serve spaghetti squash with your favorite pasta sauce or chill the crunchy strands and toss them with a light vinaigrette dressing, fresh herbs and chunks of fresh tomato.
Autumn Squash Casserole Yield: 8 one-half-cup servings Time: 70 minutes
2½ cups sliced and peeled winter squash, such as acorn, butternut or hubbard
1½ cups sliced cooking apples, such as Macintosh, Granny Smith or Rome
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1. Wash and prepare squash and apples. For extra fiber, keep peel on apples.
2. Alternate layers of squash and apples in 8×8-inch pan; end with apples.
3. Sprinkle spices over top layer.
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until squash is tender.
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Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Questions? Contact Sharon Treen, UF/IFAS Extension, Flagler County Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)