When I first began my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), I oftentimes found myself scratching my head and feverishly looking up recipes in order to prepare some of the “mystery ingredients.” Come fall in New England, many twisted, multi-colored, and sometimes downright spooky-looking squashes arrive. I don’t mean to brag, but in a few years’ time, I have become to squash what Bubba Gump is to shrimp.
Once upon a time, I could pour a nice glass of wine and indulge my inner chef. Now? Not so much. With a preschooler who starts saying “I’m hungry” around 4:30 and a toddler who sneaks to eat dog kibble when my back is turned, I have to make sure that all my recipes are fresh, fast, and fabulous. That being said, I have a tried and true approach to using and preparing squash of all kinds that is just as easy as it is delicious. Best of all? These recipes are family-friendly and you have virtually no waste at all, which is something my family really strives for in our daily life. Our motto is “Use it up, make it do, or simply do without it.” (Occasional retail therapy doesn’t count. One must live.) Today I will be sharing with you three ways to use a single acorn squash.
Fall Flavors Wedges
To begin with, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and cut the acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp and place in a bowl. Nature provided you with ridges to cut the acorn squash into wedges, so just cut the squash along these. Put the wedges into a large baking dish and toss with three tablespoons of either olive oil or coconut oil. Next, I like to use 1/8 a teaspoon of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger and one tablespoon of brown sugar. You can also add in about ¼ cup of rum, should you desire. While most alcohol does evaporate in cooking, the process is complicated and I would separate the “adult” wedges into a different baking dishes if you add the rum. Toss the wedges with all the seasonings around in the baking dish and arrange into rows. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the wedges have reached the desired tenderness. Serve immediately or allow to cool for a few minutes, then puree in the Baby Bullet with a little milk (breast, almond, coconut, cow’s, etc…), water, or organic stock for baby.
Sweet and Spicy Seeds
Now let’s take a look at your bowl of seeds and pulp. Take a few minutes and separate the two. Rinse and dry the seeds, placing the dried seeds on a cookie sheet and the pulp right into your Baby Bullet. In a measuring cup, add about 1/8 cup coconut oil or olive oil and two shakes of cinnamon, Chinese five-spice powder (cayenne will do), and 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar. Stir this mixture with a fork, breaking up chunks of brown sugar, and pour over your seeds. Toss the seeds about until they are evenly coated and bake in the oven with your squash wedges for about 15 minutes or until crispy. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before scraping into a bowl and serving. Go the extra mile and add water, honey, and cream of tartar and make a sweet and spicy seed brittle. Heaven… and no nasty corn syrup!
Squash Pulp Smoothie
Lastly, we can prepare a smoothie for dessert or for tomorrow’s breakfast. Remember: you can be as creative as you dare with smoothies, or just use what you have in the house. For example, I had a few mint leaves and sprigs of rosemary left in the garden after the fall’s harvest, so I tossed them into today’s smoothie – delicious! Get frisky! In order to best complement the flavors of today’s squash pulp, I like to use ¼ cup of cantaloupe, cucumber, kale or swiss chard, homemade yogurt or kefir, and water. I also add in a teaspoon of flax meal and ¼ teaspoon of homemade vanilla extract. (I will provide the recipe for both the yogurt and the vanilla in upcoming posts, but not the kefir – I killed mine). Blend all of the ingredients together and either drink immediately or refrigerate. I like to divide the blend into mini-smoothies for my daughter, who loves them. I am obsessed with Zipsicles, which are basically empty freezer pop pouches that you fill with your own juices, yogurts, fruits blends, or smoothies. Get some. They are game-changers. Anything and everything can be parceled out toddler and baby-sized and even frozen!
And there you have it: one acorn squash, three ways. Ménage a squash!