Autumn is definitely my favorite season, for so many reasons: the cool crisp air, the glinting sunshine and nature’s showy farewell with brilliant golds, bright reds, deep russets, lemon yellows, flaming oranges and everything in between, on the trees.
One of my favorite things is the fall harvest and all the deliciousness it brings. The multitude of autumn or winter squash that comes out this time of year impressively shows how nature (with a little help from mankind) can produce such a diversity of colors, stripes, shapes, knobs and forms on one type of vegetable.
Recently, I came into possession of several kinds of interesting squash: a Kershaw from a neighbor in West Virginia, who swore that his wife said it makes the best pies; a knobby green Italian Black Sea pumpkin, a Turkish Turban squash, and a traditional Acorn squash, all from Norman’s Farm Market.
A few days ago, I cracked open the Kershaw, which I admit had
spent about three weeks riding around in my car as it was so big, and I hesitated to bring it into my tiny kitchen. Inside, the flesh was lemon yellow, and the seeds white and large. The flesh was not abundantly thick in this squash, but the size of it (at least 12 pounds) definitely made up for it in quantity.
One of my favorite squash recipes is squash soup. Over the years, I’ve pared down a recipe that originally called for cream and Gruyere cheese along with chicken stock and squash to just the chicken stock and squash. Its that easy. (Although the original is out of this world but more caloric and costly). I saute an onion in butter or olive oil, add cut up squash and about 3 cups chicken stock. I let it simmer for about an hour or more, depending on the squash, and its suddenly soup.
Using the Kershaw with this recipe made the soup less sweet than with my traditional Butternut squash, so I added sage and poultry seasoning to keep it savory. The soup came out bright yellow, with a delicate, savory flavor.
I roasted the acorn squash, and am planning to roast the big Italian Black Sea pumpkin in my oven with olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper. John Norman of Norman’s Farm Market recommended this way for the pumpkin, the same way the Italians do in the fall, when you can smell the roasting pumpkin sold on the streets.
Another treat is to roast the seeds. I’ve found that any seeds from squash or pumpkins are delicious roasted, as an added bonus to your eating. I spread them out in a small baking sheet, sprinkle with season salt (I like Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt), and roast for about 15 minutes at 350 or so, until golden. To date, I haven’t met a squash seed I didn’t like this way.
One of the traditional benefits of winter squash was that it kept well all winter, providing rich source of carbohydrates, beta carotene and other nutrients throughout the winter. I usually stash one under my sink. If only I had a cool dark cellar, I’d be stocking up even more. But for now, I’m enjoying the orange bounty.