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 2)

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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.

Then, add another layer of egg roll wrappers. Spread with 1 cup white sauce, then top with the squash, basil and 1/3 cup cheese. Add another layer of egg roll wrappers, the remaining pumpkin mixture and 1/3 cup cheese. Top with the remaining egg roll wrappers, then spread with the remaining white sauce.

Cover the dish snugly with foil and bake on a baking sheet in the upper third of the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover the dish, sprinkle the remaining ¾ cup cheese on top and bake until golden and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

For the creamy white sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in warm milk, then bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and salt and pepper.

Adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. October 2011 issue.

Nutrition information: 446 calories (44 percent from fat), 22 grams fat (14 grams sat. fat), 42 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams protein, 755 mg sodium, 120 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.


Makes: 24 large muffins

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1½ tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups buttercup, kabocha or Hubbard squash puree

2 cups maple syrup

1 cup safflower oil

1 cup plain soy yogurt

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1½ cups toasted, chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil muffin cups.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. In a separate bowl, combine the squash puree, maple syrup, oil, yogurt, vanilla and cider vinegar. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in pecans.

Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool a few minutes in the pan and then invert muffins onto a cooling rack.

Cook's note: To toast the pecans, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until pecans are fragrant. Watch carefully because they burn easily.

From chef Thomas Lasher of Inn Season Cafe, Royal Oak.

Nutrition information: 290 calories (45 percent from fat), 15 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 38 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 257 mg sodium, 1 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.


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