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Quash the Effort of Winter Squash

Butternut squashHave you ever peeled or chopped a winter squash? You need super human hands because of their toughness. We often just toss the idea of winter squash aside because of this.

The flesh of winter squash, like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti is creamy in texture and versatile in use. Hence, they make a perfect accompaniment or main dish for chilly winter eves (and, a good source of vitamins A, E, and C. In Today’s Dietitian (Nov 09), Chef Kyle Shadix, MS RD (www.chefkyle.com), in order to prevent a kitchen wound, tells how he now bakes the whole squash instead of trying to peel and cut it into chunks for cooking.

After washing the squash, Chef Kyle uses a sharp knife to pierce a few slits into the top of the squash near the stem. Place the squash in a shallow pan (to catch any juices that seep out) and bake at 400 degrees. Smaller squash will be soft in about 45 minutes but he recommends up to 2 hours for larger varities (those around 8 lbs). Let the squash cool, cut it in half to scoop out the seeds and fibers, then use the warm, buttery flesh inside for soups, stews, or delicious sides.

Some more ideas from Chef Kyle:
– Puree in food processor with light coconut milk, curry, and freshly minced and sauteed ginger and garlic.
– Add brown sugar (or maple syrup), vanilla extract, and toasted walnuts or almonds.
– Serve mashed with salt, pepper and a touch of butter.
– Mix with pesto and sprinkle with Parmesean or Romano cheese.

Easy Spicy Butternut Squash

1 large butternut squash
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 small sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, brush the tops with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down on a sturdy cookie sheet. Bake in 450° oven until fork tender, about 20 minutes.

Mix together the remaining oil, vinegar, onion, cayenne pepper flakes, oregano, thyme and garlic. Remove the squash and pour the marinade over, allowing it to cool for 20-30 minutes.

8 servings

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