Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Squash season

Autumn, the harvest season, is of course a bountiful time for vegetarians. Among the vegetables coming into season now are the "winter" squash. They are nutritious and versatile - plus they keep for a long time and serve as a lovely arrangement on the counter as they do it.

There's just one area of trouble in this squash paradise - they are so hard to peel and chop. One way around this is to buy pre-peeled and chopped squash. You can find it fresh in the refrigerator sections of some local grocery stores. Or you can get a sharp knife and go to work ... and work ... and work. If anyone has any good tips or tricks or hints to make cutting up a fresh winter squash any easier, please let me know!

Meanwhile, I mainly use recipes where cutting is kept to a bare minimum. A simple strategy is to cut a squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp in the center. (You can clean and roast the seeds for a snack.) Place half a squash, cut side down, on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for about 5 minutes on high - until the squash is soft and done. You can eat it sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, with a pat of margarine. Or scoop out and mash the cooked squash for use in recipes such as squash pie - it looks and tastes just like pumpkin pie.

A winter squash risotto with sage is a true taste of fall. I tried the one in Jack Bishop's Italian Vegetarian cookbook - it was good enough to make all the peeling, chopping, boiling and stirring worthwhile. (You can easily veganize the recipe by leaving out the Parmesan cheese that it calls for. It is just as creamy and tasty.) Other recipes abound online – some examples are here, and here ... and I think I'll try the one here that calls for mashed squash, and leave the chopping behind.

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