Fall culinary delights

February 28, 2012

Food, Nutrition, Recipes

Both squash and pumpkins are actually fruits, since they are both receptacles for the plants’ seeds.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

Though considered vegetables, botanically speaking, both squash and pumpkins are actually fruits, since they are both receptacles for the plants’ seeds.

Squash can be served raw in salads, cooked (fried, baked, stuffed with meat) and even used as an object of art. It is low in calories and high in nutrition. One 4-ounce serving provides 20 percent or more of your recommended daily allowance of magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C and E (vitamin E is found in the seeds). It is also remarkably high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, and is a good source of calcium.

Squash is available all year, but the terms “summer” and “winter” squash usually refer to the season in which it is harvested.

And it’s easy to forget how versatile the pumpkin is for cooking — from the fleshy shell, to the seeds, to even the flowers — as most parts of it are edible. When ripe, it can be boiled, baked, steamed or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, making its way into soups and purees. The seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.

The bright orange color of pumpkins signals that it is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene — a plant carotenoid that is converted by the body to vitamin A. Beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health. Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protection against numerous diseases including heart disease, as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.

Butternut Squash Supreme

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

Place squash in a saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until very tender. Drain well, place in a large bowl and mash. In another bowl, combine the eggs, cheese, onion, milk, salt and pepper; add to the mashed squash and mix well. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs. Dot with butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 whole black peppercorns

Instructions:

Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender. Return to pan and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

Baked Miniature Pumpkins

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds. Place the butter and brown sugar inside the pumpkin and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Put the pumpkin lid back on and place pumpkin in a baking pan with a little water in the bottom. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until tender (can also be baked in the microwave on high for about 10 to 15 minutes).

Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Leek and Coconut Milk Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 pound peeled and diced pumpkin
  • 3/4 pound sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1-1/4 cups light coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and leek, and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Stir in the pumpkin, sweet potato and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Mash vegetables coarsely using a potato masher. Stir in the coconut milk, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

 

Source: www.myrecipes.com, www.allrecipes.com and Joanne’s recipe box.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number  5, Oct/Nov 2009.

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