One of the tastiest, most nutritious and versatile of the garden vegetables is winter squash.
Each type of winter squash varies in texture, aroma and flavor. This tasty vegetable can be prepared with sweet or savory flavors. Although each variety differs in its nutritional content, generally winter squash are a good source of vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C and fiber.
Select well shaped squash with hard tough skins. The gourd should be heavy for its size. Stay away from squash that have soft spots, moldy patches, cut or punctured skins. Soft thin skin indicates an immature fruit.
Winter squash often has a thick, tough skin that makes peeling hard. It is usually easier to cook the unpeeled squash and then scoop out the cooked flesh afterwards. Hold the squash firmly and, with a sharp knife, slice through the center of the squash. Scoop out any seeds before cooking.
To bake: Using a whole or halved winter squash, poke holes in the skin with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.
To boil: Cut squash into four pieces or rings and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil 25 minutes or until tender.
To microwave: Place halves or quarters, cut side down, in a shallow dish; add ¼ cup water. Cover and microwave on high 6 to 8 minutes or until soft.
Squash is cooked when it is easy to cut with a fork, and the skin peels off easily. Cooked squash may be frozen in an airtight container. Boil or mash winter squash just as you would potatoes. Add peeled, cooked squash cubes to your favorite soups, stews, beans, casseroles, and sauces. Cooked winter squash makes a great side dish for meat, poultry, or fish.
Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan
- 1 spaghetti squash, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons dried basil or 1/2 cup fresh basil, gently rubbed under cold running water and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, gently rubbed under cold running water and thinly sliced
Cut the squash in half. Place the 2 squash halves, cut side down, in glass baking dish.
Add about 1/4 cup water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high 12 minutes or until soft when pressed. Let stand covered for 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk oil, basil, oregano and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Stir in tomatoes and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.
Scrape squash out with a fork, add squash strands to tomato mixture and toss until combined.
Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 77 calories, 5 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrate, 67 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.