Fall is here and area stores are stocked with a variety of gorgeous, interesting-looking squashes. So what can we do with them – besides arrange them artfully on our tables, countertops, or front steps, that is? Botanically speaking, a squash is fruit, but that doesn’t mean kids are reaching for them like apples or bananas. Here are some recipes that incorporate some of the tastiest, under-utilized squashes.
Kabocha Squash Cakes
Peel, seed, and cube 2 cups kabocha squash (a Japanese winter squash) and 1 cup whole milk in small, heavy saucepan. Scrape in seeds from 1 vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove vanilla bean. Drain squash. Place in processor and blend until smooth. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 6-muffin pan with nonstick spray. Place ½ cup squash puree in large bowl (freeze remaining for later). Add 2/3 cup light brown sugar, 6 Tbsp olive oil, ¼ cup lager beer, and 1 large egg to puree, and beat to blend. Sift ¾ cup flour, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp baking soda, and pinch of salt; beat to blend. Divide batter in pan. Bake about 18 minutes. Cool and turn out onto plates. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
Acorn Squash Smiles and Sweet Potato Coins
Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Peel and slice 2 large sweet potatoes into ½-in. Thick coin-like slices. Cut in half lengthwise and seed 1 large acorn squash, and slice crosswise into ½-in. Thick smiles. Toss with 3 Tbsp unsalted melted butter, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide between two 17×11 inch sheet pans. Bake 25 minutes, switching position of pans halfway through. Stir together ½ cup light brown sugar and 1 tsp grated nutmeg. Turn vegetable slices and sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture. Bake until golden and tender, about 40 minutes.
Spaghetti Squash with Tuna & Tomato Sauce
Cut 1 medium spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish (the halves can overlap a bit) and add 1 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until very tender and a knife easily pierces the skin of the squash, 15 to 18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Carefully uncover and let stand until cool enough to handle, but still warm.
In a medium bowl, combine one 14-oz. Can diced tomatoes, ½ cup chopped green pimento-stuffed or Kalamata pitted olives, 1 tsp dried oregano, and ½ tsp each of salt and black pepper. When ready to serve, use a fork to loosen the squash slightly, creating spaghetti-like strands. Spoon the tomato and olive over the squash, top each piece with pieces of canned chunk white tuna in water, shredded mozzarella cheese, and ¼ cup fresh basil, and serve.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut 1 large butternut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place cut-side-up on baking sheet. Place 2 peeled garlic cloves in the cavities and drizzle the entire squash with olive oil. Add 2 peeled, cored, and cubed Gala apples, 2 large onions, peeled and cut into pieces to the baking dish. Roast for 45 minutes or until squash is tender. Once cool, scrape out the flesh of the squash into a large saucepan. Add the apples and onions, 2½ cups chicken stock, 1 cup orange juice, 1 tsp ground coriander, salt and pepper, and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree using a blender, until smooth. Check for correct seasoning. Place soup back in the saucepan and whisk in 1 cup heavy cream. Reheat slowly over low heat before serving.