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Real Food: Squash one of November’s seasonal delights

By: Joanne Neft
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Nature always provides us with what we need to eat at exactly the time we should be eating it. Thus, we have mandarins in December and January, berries appear early summer, and in November winter squash are on many grower’s tables at weekly farmers markets. Beginning in mid- to late October it’s easy to pick up a squash or two each time I’m at the farmers market. The squash end up in a big woven basket and add color to my kitchen or dining room table until they’re ready to pop in the oven for a quick roasting. A pile of squash is edible art at its finest. As daylight hours decrease and temperatures go down our bodies seem to want heavier more dense vegetables and several varieties of winter squash fill the bill. Some winter squash are ideal for pies, others have the flavorful texture for soup, and there’s a large number that are excellent roasted: acorn, butternut, delicata, Marina de Chiogga, spaghetti. As a child my father always grew acorn squash and it was the traditional squash of choice for Thanksgiving dinners. My mother roasted it, mashed it with butter and a touch of brown sugar, and I loved it with gravy. Acorn squash and cranberry relish still remind me of Thanksgiving. Another tasty way to serve acorn squash is to garnish the plate with walnuts sautéed in butter. The buttered squash is a nice choice to serve with lamb chops or sliced ham. Joanne Neft is a longtime Placer County agriculture advocate. Learn more about Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny’s “Placer County Real Food” project and cookbook at www.placercountyrealfood.com. __________ Roasted Acorn Squash with Walnut Brown Butter 3 acorn squash, cut into wedges, seeds removed 2 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper to taste ¼ cup butter ½ cup walnuts, chopped 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season squash with oil, salt and pepper. Place on sheet tray. Cover with foil, and roast 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat butter. When foamy, add walnuts and continue to cook until brown flecks appear in the butter. Season lightly with salt and pepper. To serve, place squash on a platter, skin side down, and top with brown butter. Garnish with chopped parsley.