• Jenny Hill

The Joy of Squash

You know you are around a crowd of true vegetable lovers when you can create a stir just by asking about squash. That’s what happened on the Happy Dancing Turtle campus where several staff have favorite varieties and delicious recipes to share.


Sunshine Hybrid Kabocha Squash

Tammy B. (who is also a master gardener) reported this was the first year she grew Sunshine Hybrid Kabocha in her home garden. That’s the pumpkin-looking squash pictured in the lower right corner above. It’s been described as the best eating quality of any winter squash. “I really don't do much to hide the taste of squash as we really like it!” Tammy said. She said her usual preparation is to roast in the oven with some herbs. But she tried something new this year too: “We were cooking a chicken on the grill on the rotisserie. We placed the squash under the rotating chicken and let all the juices from that drip onto the squash. Was that fantastic!”


Delicata


“My favorite squash, hands down, is Delicata.” said Quinn. They are green-striped squash, pictured in the upper right. Quinn describes them as “superbly sweet.” She offers the tip that the rind/peel can be eaten after baking, making them extra easy to use. She usually slices them in rounds then uses a spoon to swirl out the seeds from each slice, toss with olive oil and seasoning (whatever your preference) then bake at 375 till tender. Eat. “These cooked rings can also be used to fry an egg in the center,” Quinn pointed out.



Butternut and Carnival Acorn Squash


The beautiful squash in the wheelbarrow photo at the top of the article were grown by Happy Dancing Turtle’s Gardener Dave. They are Butternut and Carnival Acorn varieties. The squash in the top right photo, also from the campus garden, includes Delicata. Dave said it was a good year for squash, although there were some cutworm problems with the Delicata and so the initial planting was re-seeded.


More Uses and Recipes


Squash is a naturally sweet vegetable which makes it easy to use in place of tomatoes in recipes. If you peel and boil it you can mash it into a sauce that you can add seasoning to in order to mimic tomato sauce. Squash is a great source of vitamins C and B6, beta carotene and fiber. Butternut squash can be used in smoothies.


Campus Chef Chris uses squash on pizza in a number of ways:

  1. Instead of tomatoes in the pizza sauce

  2. Cut small and sautéed for smoky flavor (like you would use ham)

  3. Sliced very thin and laid on top for a crispy texture.


Chef Chris added: “You can also use it in place of starch-filled potatoes. Skinned and diced to potato size you can use it in hash, or sliced and fried in place of french fries. It can even be grated and used as filler in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef.”




Squash Risotto


Squash (any winter variety ) 2 cups peeled and diced

Garlic 3 cloves

Onion 1 cup diced

Olive Oil 3 tablespoons

Chicken Stock (broth) 4 cups

Rice 2 cups uncooked

Butter 4 tablespoons

Milk ½ cup

Salt and pepper

(You could add nutmeg to give it a spice aroma)


1. In a large saucepan, heat oil to almost smoking. Add squash, garlic, and onions. Cook on a medium heat until onions are translucent and squash is tender.

2. Add enough broth to cover the veggies and let simmer. Once the liquid is hot enough to almost boil, add rice.

3. Slowly add broth to just barely cover the mixture. Stir often--do not let it stick to the bottom or it will burn.

4. Once rice is tender, add the butter and mix thoroughly.

5. Pour in the milk and stir until the liquids are absorbed.

6. Salt and pepper to taste.


Storage

If you have squash to store, here are the guidelines from the University of Minnesota Extension Service: Winter squash and pumpkins should be stored at 50% relative humidity, and around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. They can last one to six months in storage, depending on the variety.

If left on your front porch, take them inside if a hard frost is projected. After sitting outdoors for a month or more, they should be eaten quickly, as outdoor conditions will decrease the shelf life.

Read more about Postharvest handling of fruit and vegetable crops in Minnesota.


Do you have a favorite squash or a favorite way to prepare squash? Please share in the comments!