All Simple Vegetable Recipes


Simple Types of Squash Vegetable Recipes

There are dozens of types of squash, which can generally be divided into two main categories. The older classification divided squash into summer and winter types. But these vegetables are no longer seasonal and are now in the market all year long. A more exact distinction is between thin-skinned and hard or thick-skinned varieties. Thin-skinned squash includes yellow summer squash, zucchini, pattypan or cymling (both celadon green and sunburst yellow), chayote, cucumber, and pumpkin. Thin=skinned varieties are best when picked very young and small, long before they reach their maximum size, while the seeds are still very immature and the flavor is delicate and fresh. The skins should be thin enough to be easily pierced with your fingernail. These squash are fragile, spoil easily, and require refrigeration.

There are different types of squash, regardless hard or thick skinned squash takes in all of the long-keeping varieties, including butternut, buttercup, delicate, Hubbard, Kabocha, spaghetti sweet dumpling, turban, and the most popular corn. There are many other hard-skinned varieties, but most unavailable commercially or are found only in very small quantities in specialty greengrocers. The thick-skinned squash are left on the vine until they are fully mature and the shells are too hard to pierce easily. The seeds are fully developed and, for the most part, are inedible. The size of these types of squash is not the indication of quality that it is in the thin-skinned varieties. Some very large specimens can be even sweeter, more flavorful, and less fibrous than smaller ones. These types of squash are best when picked and allowed to age, or cure, slightly before storing. If stored in a dry place at optimum temperature of about 50°F, they will keep through the winter – a real blessing before the advent of interstate trucking and refrigeration.

Squash are multipurpose vegetables. They can be boiled, baked, steamed, stewed, roasted, mashed, fried and combined with meats, fruits, and other vegetables to create hundreds of different dishes, both savory and sweet. In fact you could serve some kind of squash 365 days in a row and never repeat a simple vegetable recipe.

The following are the types of squash most readily available in supermarkets and greengrocers.

Summer squash is also called yellow squash and can be both straight, like yellow zucchini, and crooked neck. Thin-skinned and fully edible, summer squash is delicious raw in simple vegetable recipes such as salads or on crudités platters.

Pattypan (cymling, scallop, custard squash) squash is a tiny-to-small, saucer-shaped, thin-skinned squash with scalloped edges. It ranges in color from a beautiful pale celadon green to cream and to the vibrant yellow of the Sunburst variety. It’s a frequently neglected squash that can be stuffed, eaten raw, or substituted in any simple vegetable recipes calling for summer squash or zucchini.

Acorn squash, as its name suggests, is shape like a large acorn. This very thick-skinned variety may be golden yellow, orange, deep green tinged with orange, or white (a new variety). This can be a sweet delicious squash, or it can be watery tasting and stringy. Look for smaller sizes that can be split in half, yielding two servings. Larger ones can be cut into wedges or sliced across into rings.

Buttercup squash, shaped somewhat like a small flattened green turban squash, is small at the blossom end and bulbous at the stem end. The flesh is deep orange, solid, sweet tasting, and full of beta-carotene. Buy it when you see it for a real treat.

Butternut squash is an elongated, beige-yellow, bell-shaped squash that can grow to be quite large. It is usually available all year long. The orange flesh is sweet and creamy tasting. The smaller ones are good for stuffing; larger ones can be cut up and used in simple soups recipes, casseroles, and gratins.

Delicata is a relatively small, elongated green-and-yellow-striped squash. The pale yellow flesh is sweet with a flavor sort of like fresh corn. The skin is thinner than other hard-skinned varieties, and it does not store well. Plan to eat it within a week or two of buying it.

Hubbard squash is an often extremely large, warty skinned squash, shaped somewhat like an old-fashioned top. Colors can range from dark pine green and deep pumpkin orange to gray. Sometimes it is sold already cut into pieces. If cut, look for the deepest orange flesh, regardless of the skin color. It’s very good for stewing or combining with other vegetables and meats.

Kabocha squash looks like a small green pumpkin. The skin can be mottled and bumpy. This Asian favorite has a dense, sweet flesh that is less watery than some of its cousins.

Spaghetti squash is an oval-shaped, golden yellow squash with a relatively thin skin (thus it is sometimes categorized with thin-skinned verities). When this squash is cooked, the flesh falls into long, pale golden strands, which can be sauced and served much the same as pasta. The crisp texture and delicate flavor make it a natural to combine with all sorts of sauces, but it can also be very good tossed with just butter, salt and pepper.

Sweet dumpling squash is small (one yields one or two servings at the most) with a flattened pumpkin shape and mottled dark green to beige or orange stripes. The yellow-orange flesh is sweet and very tasty. This squash can often be substituted for acorn squash, though the flavor is different.

Turban is a large flat-based squash with a three-knobbed topknot. It looks a great deal like an old-fashioned Turkish turban, hence the name. The color can range from golden to pumpkin orange with green stripes, all on the same squash. Choose a dense, heavy specimen. This is a wonderful keeper that can be part of a harvest display on the table, then popped into the pot to enjoy as part of a meal. It combines well with other flavors and is especially good in gratins and other baked dishes, as well as simple vegetable recipes.

While squash is available in myriad shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes, all provide much the same nutritional elements. They contain large quantities of beta-carotene; and the more orange the flesh, the more it contains. All are low fat, have no cholesterol, and supply moderate amounts of fiber as well as vitamins B and C.

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