Fall’s signature vegetable is the pumpkin, but you don't have to be limited to this particular bright orange ball. There are other great varieties from the to cook up. Many vendors have set up gorgeous displays featuring an array of orange, green, cream and yellow-colored squashes that will bring your dinner table alive, whether you cook the squash or just use it as a table decoration.
But first a quick lesson for all the budding gardeners out there: Summer squash grows in the summer. Winter squash also grows in the summer. The name stems from how long they store and when they are consumed, not when they’re grown. A winter squash’s thick skin allows it to keep through the winter; whereas summer squash’s thin skin doesn’t make zucchini, for example, a good keeper. Class dismissed.
Capay organics is featuring deep green Kabochas, bright orange tear-dropped shaped Red Kuri squashes and cute-as-a-button Sugarpie pumpkins (great for pie making) this coming Sunday. Capay displayed a chalkboard with this week’s suggested recipe: Sage Delicata Squash.
Delicata is my favorite squash because it is one of the few winter squashes you don’t have to peel. With its beautiful yellow skin with green stripes, Delicata squash can be cut in half, seeded and sliced into half moons. I simply toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Capay goes further by suggesting a sauté with butter, sliced onions and sage. Mouthwatering either way, Delicata is a winner amongst its squash siblings.
John Givens Farms has an assortment of butternut, Delicata and smaller Red Kuri squashes, while Fresno Evergreen has large butternut squashes. Butternut is a great base for soups, curries and stews. Try this recipe for butternut squash lasagna for something completely different.
J.R. Organics has pumpkins for 80 cents per pound alongside the cutest display of gourds and tiny pumpkins for 3 for $1 (can’t beat that price). The vendor also has a beautiful selection of organic butternut and acorn squashes for $2 per pound.
Just in time for Halloween, a local grower from Lancaster named Jose has set up a booth selling his pumpkins for carving and cooking. In sizes ranging from $3 mini-pumpkins to $12 hefty 20-pounders, why not shop for your Halloween pumpkins at Jose’s this year?
Making your own pumpkin puree may be a little time consuming but it's worth the investment given that most store-bought canned pumpkin isn’t even pumpkin – it’s butternut squash. Find step by step instructions for making your own pumpkin puree as well as a great pumpkin bread recipe at Gardenerd.com.
For other great ideas for fall’s bounty, try this recipe for butternut squash with cumin couscous, or parmesan roasted acorn squash. From the simplest to the most complex recipes, winter squashes reign supreme.
Christy Wilhelmi is well known to many local Mar Vistans as The Gardenerd. Her website and blog at www.gardenerd.com offers information on classes, consulting and food-garden design.