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Culinary Adventures Continued — Squash Time!

November 8, 2011

During the summer, I wrote about my new appreciation for the Farmers Market and how it encourages me to try foods that I am unfamiliar with and as the seasons change so does my selection of ingredients.  Well, this week, I decided to continue my culinary adventures with a traditional fall ingredient – butternut squash. I had never cooked one myself, and to be honest, I’m no expert in the kitchen, but there are so many recipes for squash out there, I figured there had to be something delicious that a beginner like me could handle and enjoy!

Squash is a flexible ingredient, as it can be either sweet or savory, depending on the dish and the ingredients you choose to work with. On top of being tasty, butternut squash is also a great source of several antioxidants and vitamins, especially vitamin A. And, as if that weren’t great enough, it is also very low in calories and is a rich source of dietary fiber. So it is no surprise then that squash is often recommended by dietitians to help control cholesterol and lose weight. What’s not to love?!

Searching around for a simple and healthy squash recipe was slightly more difficult than I expected. There were plenty of meals that promised to be easy, but required large amounts of prep time or a grocery basket’s worth of ingredients. As a newbie with a long daily commute, I was not comfortable with those options. Finally, I found the simplest of the simple. If you’re looking to get some variety in your diet but don’t have a lot of time to cook, or if you’re just getting familiar with squash like I am, this recipe is a great place to start. I switched out the salt and pepper for some cinnamon, as it just felt more autumn appropriate (and okay, I have a big cinnamon addiction.)

To Prepare:
Medium Squash: Cut each squash lengthwise into halves; remove seeds and fibers.
For Large Squash: Cut squash into serving pieces; remove seeds and fibers.

To Cook:
Place squash in ungreased baking dish, 13½ x 9 x 2 inches. Sprinkle cut sides with salt and pepper; dot with margarine or butter. Pour water into dish to ¼-inch depth. Cover and cook until tender, in 400-degree oven 30 to 40 minutes, in 350-degree oven about 40 minutes or in 325-degree oven about 45 minutes.

I told you it was easy. From there, just chop the squash into pieces, remove the skin, and begin eating. Yum!

Now that I’ve conquered a basic recipe, I think I’m ready to try some soup next time, or maybe even this squash and freekeh recipe on the Whole Grains Council website.

–Chrisanne

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