Squash Season

It might not be winter, but it's winter squash season in Oklahoma. Squash are part of the Cucurbitaceae family that includes everything from cucumbers and cantaloupes to gourds and pumpkins. Winter squash are distinguishable from summer squash varieties-such as zucchini and patty pan-by their hard rinds, which make them storable in a cool, dry location well into the winter months (hence the name). Their slightly sweet flesh works in both sweet and savory preparations, and - with the exception of spaghetti squash- winter squash varieties can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Squash Season

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Serves 4
Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Ingredients

Nutrition information per serving (1/4 recipe): 341 calories, 19.1 g fat, 9.2 g sat. fat, 336 mg sodium, 38.6 g carb, 2.2 g fiber, 3.4 g sugar, 7 g protein

2 pounds spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry thyme
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a large knife to cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash halves, cut side down, into a baking dish. Add 1/4 inch of water. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, add the oil to a medium skillet over low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and thyme and cook over medium-low for 5 more minutes. Transfer the tomato mixture to a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the bread crumbs and cook over medium, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the parmesan cheese. When the squash is done baking, use a fork to scape the flesh away from the skin. Add the squash to the bowl with the tomatoes and mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the squash back to the baking dish. Top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping begins to brown.




Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 6 to 8
Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

Nutrition information per serving (1/8 recipe): 378 calories, 19.3 g fat, 5.6 g sat. fat, 595 mg sodium, 38.3 g carb, 5.2 g fiber, 2.6 g sugar, 16 g protein

4 small acorn squash 
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil 
Kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper 
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa* 
1 teaspoon chicken base or 1 chicken or beef bouillon cube 
1 cup water 
1 pound mild Italian sausage 
1 cup diced onion 
2 cloves garlic 
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped 
Zest of 1 orange (optional) 
6 cups chopped kale, ribs removed 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the acorn squash in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds and strings. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet, cut side up. Brush the halves with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when pricked with a fork. (Baking time may vary based on the size of the squash.) Meanwhile, prepare the filling. To a medium skillet, add the quinoa, the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and the chicken base or bouillon; stir to coat the quinoa with the oil. Turn the heat on to medium-high and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the quinoa begins to toast. Add the water and bring the pot to a boil. Then, place a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the burner and allow the pot to stand for 10 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, brown the sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic, cranberries and orange zest and cook until the onions are tender. Add the kale, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the kale is begins to wilt. Turn off the heat and stir in the quinoa. Fill the baked squash cavities with the sausage mixture. Return to oven for 15 minutes. *Note: You can substitute brown or regular long-grain rice for quinoa; adjust rice cooking time as needed.




Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Bread

Yields 1 large loaf or 3 small loaves
Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients

Nutrition information per serving (1/12 recipe): 146 calories, 9 g fat, 6.7 g sat. fat, 221 mg sodium, 15.1 g carb, 1.2 g fiber, 10.5 g sugar, 2.2 g protein

1/3 cup coconut oil (or substitute canola oil)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 room temperature eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or substitute milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peeled, grated butternut squash, seeds removed
1 3/4 cups oat flour* (or substitute all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil and brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs and mix until well-combined. Stir in the yogurt and vanilla. Add the grated squash and mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the chocolate chips, and stir until combined. Transfer the batter to a greased 9-by-5-inch bread pan, or three small, greased bread p ans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes for the large pan or 30 to 35 minutes tor the small pans, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

*Note: To make your own oat flour, grind up approximately 1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned or quick oats in a food processor or blender until very fine- about 5 minutes. This recipe can be made gluten free if gluten-free-certified oats are used.




Weeknight Winter Squash Soup

OKL Bonus Content Bonus Content!

Serves 6
Weeknight Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients

Nutrition information per serving (1/6 recipe): 111 calories, 2.7 g fat, .4 g sat. fat, 302 mg sodium, 23.5 g carb, 7.1 g fiber, 4.7 g sugar, 2.3 g protein

4 pounds winter squash (any variety except spaghetti squash)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cubes vegetable or chicken bouillon, crushed or 2 teaspoons chicken base
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry thyme
4 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the winter squash in half and remove the seeds and strings. Place squash, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add 1/4 inch of water to the baking dish.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, in a small skillet sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed bouillon or chicken base, cayenne pepper and thyme and stir to combine. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender. Add the onion mixture, water and lemon or lime juice and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

 



Common Winter Squash Varieties  

(NOTE: these squash are listed in the order that they appear in the photo, from top to bottom.)

This month, expect to see several types of winter squash arrive in your local grocery store. Here’s some basic information about preparing and cooking with each type. 

Types of Squash

Photo by Laura Araujo

Butternut Squash: A very popular squash with sweet, creamy flesh. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin before cubing or slicing the squash to steam, roast or bake. Butternut squash be eaten on its own, pureed for soup, spiralized and used in the place of noodles, or substituted for pumpkin in baked goods. 

Acorn Squash: This sweet, moist winter squash resembles an acorn in shape. Its thin rind makes it easy to cut into, and the cooked skin is edible. Brush the squash flesh with a bit of olive oil, or throw a small piece of butter into the center of each squash, then season with salt and pepper before baking. Acorn squash makes a delicious stand-alone side for fall, but also works as a main dish when stuffed with filling and baked. 

Kabocha Squash: Kabocha means pumpkin in Japanese. This tough-skinned Japanese variety of winter squash is often dark green on the outside—but also comes in an orangish-red variety. The orange-skinned squash is sweeter than the green. Kabocha flesh becomes dry when baked, making it a viable alternative to potatoes; its creamy texture works well in soup. 

Spaghetti Squash: The flesh of this winter squash is different from the dense flesh of other varieties. The slightly sweet cooked squash is stringy like spaghetti noodles. To prepare, cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and bake in the oven or cook in the microwave. Scoop the flesh out and use in casseroles or as a substitute for noodles. Cooked spaghetti squash freezes well. 

Pie Pumpkin: Jack o’lantern pumpkins are actually gourds and aren’t preferable for eating. However, the smaller pie pumpkin variety can be roasted or baked and enjoyed in baked goods—such as breads, pies and pancakes—as well as used in soup and other savory recipes.