I am a self-proclaimed summer chic. I much prefer warm sunny days over the cold chilly winter days that accompany the upcoming holiday season. That being said, there is one thing I do love about this time of year and that's the autumn harvest! My favorite squashes are in full bloom and I can't get enough of them. They're warming, a little sweet, and in my opinion nature's own organic comfort food. I mean seriously nature was cool enough to give us a "pasta" plant ready for you to mix up with your favorite sauce! (If you haven't experienced spaghetti squash, I suggest you get your hands on one immediately. No boiling water required and you can even use the "skin" as a bowl!)
So what are the different types? Here's a list of my favorites!
Delicata squash. It almost looks like a multi-colored cucumber (except with a much firmer exterior). I have made both savory and sweet dishes with this deliciously versatile squash! If you haven't cut up squash before, this is a good one to start with. It's small size allows for easy maneuvering. Simply cut of a small piece on both ends, stand it up on you cutting board and slice it down the middle! Scoop out the seeds and no you have limitless options! You can cut them into 1/4 inch slices for sautéing or roasting or leave them in their boat-like state and "stuff" them with your favorite veggie filling! For a sweeter recipe check out THIS RECIPE I posted last year.
Acorn squash. With its dark green exterior and bright orange flesh, this squash makes an excellent serving vehicle for grains, veggies or soups! Simply slice off the top, stand it flat side down on your cutting board, slice in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. I then place the halves cut side down on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet (lightly greased with coconut oil) and bake at 400 till a knife easy goes through. (This is usually between 30-45 minutes). I'll often throw in a tray of veggies to roast as well so that way I can make an edible roasted veggie bowl! Having a few "bowls" cooked early in the week allows me to easily throw together a dinner with leftovers. Just take leftover veggies sides and throw them in your acorn squash bowl and voila, instant dinner.
Spaghetti Squash. Nature knew we would need a comfort food and she graciously granted us a nutritious pasta that is easy to cook and prepare! If you are struggling with giving up your pasta, fret not as this squash will totally satisfy that carb craving without the flour, gluten, or processing. This may just be me, but spaghetti squash looks a bit like a stretched out honey dew melon with a stem at the top. Of all the squash, I find this to be the least sweet so I tend to treat it just like I would my favorite pasta. To prepare, slice off the top and bottom and stand the squash upright on your cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife very carefully slice down the middle length-wise. (NOTE: I tend to do 1 side at a time and go slowly. I once got my knife stuck and it was very difficult to get out.) Scoop out the seeds and bake using the acorn squash bowl method. Once it's cooked, allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes then pull out your fork and begin "shredding" you pasta! Add your pasta to your sauce on the stove top, mix it up and enjoy! I have found this freezes great and makes a satisfying dinner in minutes if your in a pinch. Just pull it out of the freezer to defrost, heat up your sauce, toss it with the pasta and you're done!
Butternut Squash: Like delicata, this sweet orange squash makes a yummy savory or sweet dish! If you have a good peeler, I recommend peeling before coking. I typically chop off the neck of the squash and then cut each half in half length wise. If you've already peeled your squash, you can then proceed to cube it up (once all seeds are removed) and roast it up. If you don't have a peeler or are just pressed for time use the cut side down roasting method we've discussed for the other squashes. This skin is not edible so be sure to scoop out the orange flesh once it's cooked. I like to throw the cubed pieces into salads or make a "mash" in the food processor. Roast up some onions and garlic and blend it up with some evoo and the butternut squash for a super yummy meal! For a quick and easy sweet snack just cube it up and sprinkle with cinnamon and vanilla (I have a wonderful vanilla olive oil that I've also done this with, it's delish!) My favorite side with this mash is a big heaping pile of sautéed garlic kale.
Pumpkin: Although this squash gets a lot of carving action as a decorative piece, it is very easy to roast up to create the perfect purée for both savory and sweet applications. Simply cut a circle around the handle of the pumpkin and pop it out (it reminds me of a hat!) Scoop out the seeds and proceed with the usual method for squash roasting (cut side down). Once your pumpkin is roasted (about 40 minutes depending on the size) let it cool and then scoop the flesh out into your food processor. The pumpkin will be a little stringy, similar to the spaghetti squash. Simply blend it and voila! You have perfectly smooth, creamy pumpkin at your fingertips. Here is a no bake, sugar free recipe to try with your delicious purée!
No Bake Crustless Pumpkin Pie
2 cups pumpkin puree or 1-15 oz can organic pumpkin puree
1/2 cup Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Melted
1/2 tablespoon Olive and Marlowe's Vanilla Bean Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Alcohol Free vanilla
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon + extra for sprinkling
1 Scoop Maca Powder (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients except the coconut oil with a handmixer till combined well.
2. While mixer is running, slowly pour in the coconut oil and beat till well combined.
3. Pour batter into 12-count paper lined muffin tin and sprinkle extra cinnamon on top. Cover with plastice wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour; best if refrigerated 4 hours.