Emily McClure

Emily McClure

Spaghetti squash a delicious seasonal favorite

 

By Emily McClure

 

As you are walking through the grocery store or strolling around the farmer’s market, you might notice winter squash being displayed. Many of us have seen winter squash during the fall used as decorations outside on a hay bale or used for centerpieces, but how do we cook these beautiful vegetables?

Winter squash is different from summer squash as it is eaten when matured fully and the rind has hardened. Most varieties grow on a vine. The most popular winter squash varieties we see are pumpkin, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash. They need to be stored in a dry cool environment and if they are being stored for an extended time, should be in a single layer, not touching, to prevent spreading rot.

There are many different ways to prepare your squash. Some might cut in half (lengthwise) and bake, peel and cut into pieces, microwave or steam their squash. They can also be mashed or pureed. Winter squash makes great soups and they are rich in beta carotene, vitamin C and potassium. The seeds from the squash can also be a great snack once baked.

Another great benefit to winter squash is the price. They are affordable, and one squash makes multiple servings. Recently I was at the store and found butternut and spaghetti squash for under a dollar each. This is a great price considering you could buy a few and store them or you could make a large pot of soup and freeze portions for easy access later on in the season.

If you are looking for something different to prepare, try a spaghetti squash. They are the yellow oval squash.

Rinse the squash off and cut length wise down the center of the squash, then remove the seeds, no need to peel the squash. Brush some olive oil on the inside of the product and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Once you take it out of the oven, flip over and take a fork and scratch it over the inside. Using a fork will help the squash make the spaghetti-like noodles.

If you are looking for a soup recipe here is one for squash soup from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Mixing Bowl website:

 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 onions (medium, chopped)

2 carrots (medium, chopped)

2 garlic cloves (minced)

1 cup tomato puree (canned)

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, low-sodium

4 cups winter squash (cooked)

1 1/2 tablespoons oregano (dried)

1 1/2 tablespoons basil (dried)

 

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, warm oil over medium heat.

2. Stir in onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Cook for about 5 minutes, covered.

4. Stir in the tomato puree, chicken broth, cooked squash and herbs.

5. Bring soup to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Emily McClure is a registered dietitian, Family and Consumer Sciences agent, Jackson County Extension. Email her at ekmcclure@ncat.edu.