Winter Squash – It warms your tummy!

I was talking to a friend a few days back who mentioned how good – and versatile – winter squash was.  She had just had a fabulous stromboli stuffed with one of our Jarradhale Pumpkins in a fabulous curry sauce courtesy of the ever-creative Chef Kim at Pickles Deli in Clinton.  It was yummy, yummy but my favorite comment was how the dish “warmed my tummy.”
That’s really a great description for Winter Squash and Pumpkins and perhaps that is why they are such a fabulous fall and winter food!  But so, so many folks seem intimidated by the Squash/Pumpkin family, maybe they buy them for a pretty display on their porch our countertop – but they never know what to do with them!

So…since ironically enough, we are bringing LOTS of winter squash to the Bayview Market today…Let’s talk Squash (and Pumpkins).
First of all, their is no botanical difference between squash and pumpkins.  Pumpkins are merely a “culinary” (and usually appearance) designation with pumpkins usually earning the name for their orange color and round shape.  For culinary purposes, pumpkins are said to be denser and heavier than most “squash” varieties but I really don’t find that true.  In reality, it’s more just a tradition of what a particular variety has been called.  For instance, the fabulous Jarradhale “Pumpkin” is actually a beautiful blue/grey color rather than orange.  It does have a classic pumpkin shape, however…
There are four botanical classifications for winter squash/pumpkins – Cucurbita Pepo (mostly little ones like acorns and delicatas), Cucurbita Moschata (not so common, mostly “cushaw” types), Cucurbita Mixta (medium ones, includes butternut and lots of pie pumpkins) and Cucurbita Maxima (the big ones…hubbards!).
Along with colors and shapes, their can be a wide variance in the flavor and texture of pumpkins and squash (btw, “Jack o’ Lantern” type pumpkins while yes, technically “edible” are usually so stringy of texture they are next to impossible to do anything with if you cook them…). 
Here’s a quick run-down on some of the varieties we offer:
* Jarradhale.  Blue/Grey Australian pumpkin.  Very hearty, rich, dense flesh.  Great for savory dishes or soup.
* Winter Luxury Pie Pumkin.  Out of this world pie pumpkin.  Heirloom from the 1800s with orange “netted” skin.  Very light, sweet flesh.  Perfect for pie, cheesecake, ice cream, muffins…
* Red Kuri.  A Japanese “Kabocha” type.  Orange, tear-drop shaped.  Dry, nutty flavor reminiscent of hazelnut.  Great for savory dishes or soup.
* Spaghetti Squash.  Sweet, lightly color flesh that when baked, you can use a fork to make “strings” with and use in place of pasta.
* Sweet Meat.  A blue-gray hubbard type.  Known for it’s dense, very sweet flesh.  Great for baked squash or in pies!
* Delicata – Small, striped winter squash.  Very pretty.  Thin-skinned.  You can steam whole and cut with the skins intact.  Sweet delicate flavor.
* Sweet Dumpling.  Relative of the Delicata only round shape.  Very sweet, thin skinned.  Great to stuff and serve individually.
* Australian Cheese.  Interesting pink-orange color.  Very sweet, dense flavor.  Good for baked squash, for desserts…
* Uncle David’s Dessert Buttercup.  Dense, sweet and hearty.  Great baked type.  Smaller, dark-green color.
And probably a few more…
The other great thing about winter squash/pumpkins is THEY KEEP!  Keep them someplace where they will be in the 50 degree temperature and nice and dry (decorating a table or countertop is ideal!) and most varieties will last several months in not many, many months (the thicker the skin, the longer they keep) and not only will they keep, but most varieties get sweeter in storage.  So stock up – and enjoy!

And since you might want to know what else we are bringing to market today…Here is the list coming to the Bayview Farmer’s Market
* Winter Squash and Pumpkins (in case you didn’t read about wall o’ text and just skipped straight here)
* The LAST of the tomatoes!  Ripe heirlooms, slicers, beefsteaks, green ones.  No more – we are pulling the vines next week!
* Mesclun bags
* Arugula bags
* Beet bunches
* Carrot bunches
* Potatoes of all sorts – including 10 lb storage bags at a better price – so stock up!
* Garlic – food grade and still seed grade available for planting
* Leeks
* Onions
* Kale
* Chard
* Dry Beans – Rockwell’s and Black Coco’s this week!
And we here Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods is bringing some green beanies (Roma’s I think) he pulled from his hoophouse this week.  That’s awful late for green beans so enjoy the special treat while you can get them!
Hope to see you at Bayview Market today!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie
P.S.  And a few recipes…

Jarrahdale Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Horseradish

The Jarrahdale cooks up very well with the potatoes and
adds a light and fresh flavor. The low sugar of the pumpkin
can’t be tasted and the garlic and horseradish give a piquant
zing that spices up this old favorite.

1 Jarrahdale Pumpkin
6 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 C butter
1/4 C cream
1/4 C chopped horseradish
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese to taste

Heat Jarrahdale in 250 oven for 25 minutes. Cool, halve and scoop out flesh.
Microwave potatoes with holes poked in them for about 12 minutes.
Skin potatoes if desired and then dice them.
Add potatoes, squash, cream and butter to a pot on medium heat.
Mash as the potatoes cook down and become tender, about 25 minutes.
Add more cream if the potatoes become stiff or dry.
Add garlic, horseradish, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes.
Serve in the Jarrahdale Pumpkin and top with parmesan cheese.

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Nutty Renee’s Red Kuri Soup
(Named in honor of my mother, Renee, who came up with this recipe featuring the rich, hazelnut-reminiscent flavor of Red Kuri winter squash.  Peanut butter brings out the creamy sweetness of the squash but be careful to not overdo it as the peanut can also easily overpower the delicate flavors)
Ingredients
2 cups Red Kuri squash
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup milk
¼ cup (no more) quality peanut butter (like Adams)
Baby spinach leaves or arugula, for garnish
Cut Red Kuri squash in half, scoop out seeds and roast until soft.  Roasting the squash is important as it partially caramelizes the vegetable, which is great for the flavors.  Cool and scoop out flesh.  Mix with chicken stock in food processor until smooth.
In large saucepan saute the pine nuts and onions in the olive oil until soft.  Cool and chop coarsely (in food processor if possible).  Add squash and simmer the entire mixture.
15 minutes before serving add milk and peanut butter, stir well.  Do not boil after this.
Garnish with baby spinach leaves or arugula and serve.  Other squash or pumpkins can be substituted, but be sure to roast!
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