Squash 101

In Season

October 31, 2007|By Joe Gray | Joe Gray,Chicago Tribune

Along with the usual deep-forest green, acorn squash comes in hues of yellow and creamy white. The deeply fluted squash is an American native, which makes it "more American than apple pie," according to Amy Goldman in The Compleat Squash. (She points out that apples were brought here from the Old World.)

If you cut a squash open to reveal the dense flesh, you will find the white variety with the palest color (pale yellow), the green a little darker inside with yellow-orange interior, and the orange most deeply colored, a vivid orange.

The traditional green acorn squash, known as Table Queen, has the best flavor and texture combination of the three, while the orange is creamier and the white rather mild (even bland).

Joe Gray writes for the Chicago Tribune.

TIPS FOR USING ACORN SQUASH

Buying

The skin or rind should be without dents, cuts or soft spots. The squash should be heavy for its size.

Storing

These squash, like most winter squash, are durable and can be kept for weeks - from 30 to 180 days in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, according to Melissa's Great Book of Produce, by Cathy Thomas. But if you don't have those root-cellar conditions, try to use your squash within a week or so.

Preparing

The best way to go is to cut them in half, either around the middle or top to bottom, then scoop out the seeds. Remove a thin slice from the bottoms to keep them stable on a dinner plate. If you want to skin the squash, it's easier to slice them first along the furrows.

Cooking

Roast the halved squash cut-side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a knife blade slides in easily. Put an unpeeled clove or two of garlic underneath each so that the aroma imbues the squash.

Once cooked, the squash halves can be served perked up with salt and butter, or the flesh can be pureed as a side dish or made into soup. (Mash up the garlic into the squash flesh or save for another use.) Squash halves also can be steamed or, if peeled, cut into cubes and roasted with other fall vegetables or simmered slowly in broth.

[Joe Gray]

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