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Warm Winter Squash

From: Chef Bobby Perillo

butternut squash soup

As the summer fades into autumn the seasonal vegetables begin to fade with it. Summer produce often requires limited cooking. When it is hot and humid a quick tomato-cucumber salad, or grilled eggplant fit the bill perfectly. Hardier fall vegetables such as “winter squash” sometimes entail a bit more attention than their summertime counterparts, but suit the climate.

Winter squash tend to take longer to mature than summer squash, are harvested in the fall, and store well throughout the cold months. Pumpkins are symbolic of the seasonal transition that accompanies the vibrant fall foliage. Pumpkins tend to be decorative, or turned into pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving after the foliage has completely abandoned the trees. There are many types of fall/winter squash along with varying applications.

The Delicata Squash has become a fall staple in our home. It is a small cylindrical squash with thin edible skin and when cooked the flesh is firm with a rich sweet quality.

I cut the squash into half-inch rings and punch out the seeds with a cookie-cutter. Next I toss the rings in salt pepper and enough extra virgin olive oil to coat and grill until tender. I serve the Delicata with a drizzle of inexpensive aged balsamic vinegar from Modena Italy.

Other types of squash can be just as easy to prepare. Acorn squash, which are small in size, can be simply prepared by splitting the squash in half, removing the seeds, seasoning, and baked in an oven until soft. The flesh of the acorn squash can be scooped from the shell-like outer skin at the table. A coworker recently gave me a spaghetti squash from her garden. I prepared the spaghetti squash like the acorn squash. When the squash was tender I scooped out the flesh, which develops into thin spaghetti like strands. Then I tossed the “spaghetti” with brown butter and sage.

There are other types of winter squash you might encounter at your local farmers market, such as hubbard, kabocha, turban, banana, carnival, gold nugget, autumn cup, sweet dumpling squash, and butternut squash.

View Puree of Butternut Squash Soup Recipe