November 16, 2011

Winter squash: low in fat, high in fiber, versatility

They come in an array of colors and skin textures and are finding their way into soups, ravioli and salads.

By SUSAN M. SELASKY McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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Squash overruns the produce bins at this time of year.

McClatchy Newspapers

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The round, pumpkin-like butternut squash stars here in Enchiladas Calabaza.

McClatchy Newspapers


CHOOSING: Look for squash that is firm and heavy. Avoid any with decay or soft spots.

PREPARING: Maren Jackson, co-owner of Seva restaurant in Ann Arbor, Mich., says to first slice off the top or bottom so you have a flat surface to rest it on before peeling. Peel with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

WITH A LARGE SQUASH like Hubbard, insert a knife and use a meat cleaver or rubber mallet to pound the knife into the squash. (If you do an Internet search, you will see people throwing them on concrete to split them open.)

SMALLER VARIETIES such as acorn, delicata and carnival can be pierced several times all over and then microwaved a few minutes to soften the skin. That makes it easier to cut through.

STORING, BAKING, ROASTING: Most squash will last for weeks stored in a cool, dark place. To bake, cut in half or into pieces and remove the seeds. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, melted butter or margarine and, if you like, a sprinkling of brown sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes. To roast, cut squash in half lengthwise. Rub with a little olive oil and place the cut side down on a sided baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes.

ONCE IT'S COOKED, keep it just a few days in the refrigerator. You also can freeze cooked squash. Place cooked cubes or puree in sealable freezer bags or containers and freeze up to one year.

To make the sauce: In a saucepan, place the onion, water, cayenne, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin. Cover and simmer until onions are tender. Stir in tomato sauce and cilantro and heat briefly.

Pour sauce over top of enchiladas. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve.

From Seva Restaurant, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Nutrition information: 187 calories (44 percent from fat), 9 grams fat (4 grams sat. fat), 21 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 549 mg sodium, 17 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.


Serves: 6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

The recipe makes 1 cup of vinaigrette.


4 cups cooked quinoa

2 cups cubed winter squash, such as butternut

1 tablespoon olive oil

1½ teaspoons cumin

1½ teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground or rubbed sage

Pinch of salt

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup chopped carrot

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped parsley


¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, peeled, mashed

Salt and pepper to taste

Mixed greens for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Toss the squash with olive oil, cumin, chili powder, sage and pinch of salt. Roast in oven until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and toast the pumpkin seeds until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, pumpkin seeds, red onion, carrot, celery and parsley with the squash.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients. Add desired amount of the vinaigrette (or serve it on the side), salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a bed of greens.

From Inn Season Cafe, Royal Oak, Mich.

Nutrition information: 391 calories (47 percent from fat), 21 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 45 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 113 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 grams fiber.


Serves: 6

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Look for egg roll wrappers in the produce section of grocery stores.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2¼ cups favorite winter squash, peeled and cubed

1 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

1 egg

10 egg roll wrappers (5-inch square)

1¾ cups shredded aged Gouda cheese (about 8 ounces)

8 large basil leaves


2 tablespoons butter

½ cup finely chopped shallots

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups 2 percent milk, warmed

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

For the lasagna: In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the squash and 1 cup water and simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the water is evaporated and the squash is golden and tender, about 13 to 15 minutes; set aside.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, lightly grease an 8-inch-square glass baking dish and spread ½ cup white sauce (instructions below) in the bottom. In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and egg.

Cut half of the egg roll wrappers into 3 strips each. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water (as you work with the wrappers, dip them in the water to rinse off the starch). Use 1 whole wrapper and 3 strips to cover the white sauce in the bottom of the dish in a single layer (there will be overlap). Spread a generous ½ cup of pumpkin mixture on top and sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat this layer.

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