Butternut – Acorn – Spaghetti Squash
By contributing writer Mark R. Vogel
The envoys of fall arrive to greet us well before the autumnal equinox. Gourds, which include pumpkins, winter squash, and those warty, odd-shaped decorative miniatures, begin showing up in supermarkets and roadside stands in late summer.
Appearing even before the leaves start changing, they’re a distinctive harbinger of autumn. For the gourmet, they’re a key ingredient in a variety of seasonal dishes.
Squash is the fruit of plants from the gourd family. Squash originated in the western hemisphere and was being consumed by man at least 5,000 years ago, probably longer.
Summer squash, such as zucchini and pattypan, although usually available year round, peak in the summer months. Summer squash is distinguished by thin, edible skins, soft seeds, and a high water content. Highly perishable, it will last less than a week in the fridge.
Winter squash, e.g., butternut, acorn, spaghetti, etc., is firmer fleshed with thick skin and requires longer cooking. It should not be refrigerated and will keep in a cool dark place for up to a month.
Choose squash with a bright, firm skin that is free of bruises. Squash is a good source of vitamins A, B2 and C, as well as niacin, potassium, and iron.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and cook it flesh side down in a quarter inch of chicken stock for a full hour at 350° F in a covered baking dish. Check it by turning it over and poking it with a knife or a fork.
- Continue to cook if it is not soft all the way through. It may take more than hour depending on the size.
- Once it’s done, simply scrape out the pulp and treat it exactly like spaghetti.
- Add your favorite tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.