Monday, September 24, 2012

Radical Cooking - Winter Squash Made Easy

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist
www.Cheesecake Farms.com


"In the Kitchen with Karla"
Roasting Winter Squash Class


Next to pie crust and roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, cooking winter squash seems to baffle even the most experienced cook.... and I don't know why.

Maybe it's because winter squash seem so big.  Or maybe because it's not easy to tell when they're ripe.
Or maybe it's because they seem so mysterious.... but winter squash is one of Mother Nature's yummiest treats.

You probably know pumpkin.  That's a winter squash.  And maybe you know Spaghetti Squash and Butternut too, but there are as many varieties of winter squash as there are gardens and fields to grow it.

Winter squash takes its name from the fact that (because of it's hard shell) it will store all winter in a cool-ish space without canning, freezing, drying or any preparation at all.

Maybe the real reason winter squash baffles cooks is its hard shell.  Yes, that must be it.  But don't worry - that rock hard shell which protects the delicate interior is a snap to crack....here's how:

1.  Wash the squash well under tepid running water.  Drain.  Drying isn't necessary.
Microwave squash briefly to soften the shell

2.  If the squash will fit into your microwave, heat it for a minute or two just to soften the outer shell so you can get the tip of a heavy knife into it.

3.  Wiggle the knife back and forth into the softened outer shell until it cracks apart.

  Insert the tip of a heavy knife into
the softened shell
Wiggle the knife till
the squash cracks open
4.  Remove the seeds and discard, roasted for snacking (think pumpkin seeds) or save for next year's garden.

5.  Place squash cut side down onto baking parchment lined pan. (No parchment?  Use foil, spritzed with pan spray.)


Roast, cut side down
6.  Roast, uncovered, until it reaches your desired soft-ness from just soft to the touch (like for stuffing them) or till it all falls part (like when you want to puree it for pies).

The temperature doesn't matter so you can roast it along with something else.
350 degrees is ideal but lower temperatures work, too.  It will just take longer.  A little higher temperature is OK as well.

How long will it take????
It depends on the size of your squash.
Allow at least an hour at 350 degrees - maybe longer.
Lower temperatures will take more time.
Higher temperatures may take less.
Winter squash is just one of those things that you can't ruin.... well, most people can't ruin.



Karla's Tips

Can't get the squash into the microwave?  Try cracking it with a hammer.  (Seriously!)

If all else fails, you can roast it with the seeds but sometimes the seeds can make the squash taste bitter so it's always best to get the seeds out before hand if you can.  Also, you can't plant cooked seeds. They won't grow.
You can roast a variety of
winter squash at the same time!



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