Elegant Edibles Catering
Well, I have turned the calendar page yet again…the crunch of October leaves is behind us as we begin to anticipate the wonderful comforting aroma of Thanksgiving foods! I love being able to turn the oven on, rather than turning the furnace up, so today, I’m baking several different kinds of winter squash…butter cup, acorn, carnival, butternut and blue hubbard, just to name a few. I love to mix different varieties of squash. While each has its’ own distinct flavor and color, the combination of varieties really makes for a flavorful medley.
There are many delicious ways to serve squash (some even work for the non-squash eaters in the crowd!). One of the more popular varieties is the acorn squash. As its’ name suggests, it is shaped like an acorn, and has a mild flavor. You can find these tasty little treats at most any farm stand or produce department. Truth be told, I haven’t always been a big fan of winter squashes, so until the last ten or so years I never really paid much attention to the specifics of the varieties available. Anyway, getting back to the acorn squash; I have prepared them many times, always going to the market or a farm stand to purchase however many I need. They are usually the size of a softball or maybe a little smaller. I never gave it a thought that they might grow larger. A few years ago, I was planning to serve stuffed acorn squash as an entrée for a wedding reception. I needed about 6 dozen squash, so rather than buy them in my usual manner, I choose to order them in bulk from a vendor. Great idea, huh? That is what I thought, until I opened the boxes and discovered that instead of 60 of my expected softball size beauties, I had 17 of the biggest acorns you have ever seen! YIKES! Now I’m not talking a just a little big. These squash made the jack o lantern pumpkins I just carved with my granddaughter look small. Did I ever learn something new that day. I also realized that I still needed to get to the market and buy 60 more appropriately sized squash!
I was eventually able to get enough small squash to create my stuffed squash entrée, which, by the way, turned out really great. That left me with all of the gigantic squash to find a use for. Not having a need for 40 pounds of squash in the next few days, I decided to simply bake them and freeze the squash to use later. It is very simple to cook squash; After washing the outside, simply poke a hole in the flesh with a sharp knife (to vent the squash and keep it from blowing up in your oven (NOT something you want to have to deal with!) and bake until tender. Usually, about an hour at 350* will do it.
When they are cool, cut the squash in half, scoop the seeds out and discard them, then scoop the flesh out, mash and package to freeze. I like to use quart size zipper bags for freezing. By doing it this way, the options for later are endless. You can have plain squash, make a terrific squash soup, squash fritters, squash pies, squash bread…you get the idea! Get creative and use squash in place of potatoes in recipes. It is nutritious and versatile, and they can grow REAL BIG!
Acorn Squash Soup
- 4 c cooked, mashed squash
- 1 c finally chopped sweet onion
- 1 T butter
- 2-4 T fresh ginger, minced, to taste
- 4 c chicken stock (or any vegetable stock)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 c half and half
Saute onions until tender and lightly browned.
In a large pot, add all ingredients EXCEPT half and half. Cook to a simmer, stirring with a spoon to break up squash, for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree until smooth. Add half and half and heat through.
Serve topped with croutons (try making croutons with cinnamon or raisin bread for an extra flavor boost!).
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