Friday, February 26, 2010

Eating Seasonally: Winter Squash

I've been having a spat of writer's block lately; unfortunately, the books I have been reading have been so engaging that I am driven to finish them rather than write about them, which is what I had planned on doing.  It happens.  To keep the juices flowing, I decided instead to post a little recipe on one of my favorite foods - winter squash!

First, I just have to mention that 'squash' is a pretty fun word to say.  Almost as great as it is to eat.

There are several varieties of this rugged little guys (I say 'little' when some of them can grow to weigh almost a ton). You may know them as...
  • Acorn Squash
  • Kabocha Squash
  • Turban Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Various types of Pumpkin
  • Many, many more
Winter squash is a pretty significant fruit.  Originally cultivated in Central America from wild squashes about 10,000 years ago, winter squashes spread to the north and south over time, and were a staple in Native American diet - so much so that, in some tribes, the dead were buried with squash to provide them with sustenance in their afterlife journeys (similar to the Egyptians!)

Though they grow mainly in the summer, their tough rind and general hardiness allow them to be stored easily throughout the winter months - hence the name.  This proved invaluable to indigenous peoples, as they did not have access to the modern conveniences of refrigeration or canning techniques.

Another draw is that they're very nutritious!  Winter squash comes chock full of all sorts of goodies: beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, a load of Vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids... too many to list, so check out this link for a full analysis.

Plus, they're tasty.  Like, way tasty.

So yeah, that's enough of the history/science lesson on friggen squash.  How about a recipe?

Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash

I modified a recipe from Epicurious to more suit my insatiable desire for butter and feta cheese ^_^

You will need...
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. of butternut squash
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 oz organic feta cheese
  • as much pastured butter as humanly possible (I prefer Kerrygold)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with foil.  Cut squash in half, the remove the seed and pulpy fibers - you can save the seeds for bakin' later if you like!

Now, you can either leave the squash halves as is, or cut them into smaller pieces.  Up to you.  Once they're cut (or not), place 'em evenly spread on your cookie sheet.

Melt butter in a pan and then drizzle onto squash - cover those suckers!  Add salt + pepper to taste.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned and soft to the touch (use a fork or knife - 400 degrees is hot).

Remove from oven and douse evenly in the balsamic.  Let cool to room temperature, top with feta cheese and then greedily devour.

Hope you like it as much as I did!

This piece has been submitted to Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday - check it out!
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Man vs World by Aaron M Fraser is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.