By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Perhaps the most vivid sign of fall in Saratoga is the appearance of winter squash, in many shapes, sizes, and brightly colored hues. They fill the farm fields outside the city limits, and adorn in-town yards and porches. Many varieties of winter squash are now filling vendor stalls at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.
While the plethora of squash is delightful to observe, identifying the different varieties and when best to eat them can be confusing. For instance, many might not know that the lovely, small cylindrical squash known as delicata is technically not a winter squash at all. According to the web site Modern Farmer, delicata’s “summer squash” skin is tender enough to remove with a vegetable peeler. As a member of the Cucurbita Pepo category of squash, it can be eaten almost immediately after harvest but will not keep for more than a couple months.
A recent Garden Tip from the Hudson Valley Seed Library provides a useful guide to identifying winter squash, and determining which varieties will store better than others. The organization, based in the Rondout Valley between the Catskill mountains and Shawangunk Ridge, notes that squash is one of the easier vegetables to store for winter use. Most varieties will last at least two to five months if cured and stored at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in dry conditions. The seed library breaks the varieties of winter squash into three basic categories: Cucurbita Pepo, Cucurbita Maxima, and Cucurbita Moschata. A list of which squashes fall into each category, how to cure and store them, and how long they’ll keep can be found at www.seedlibrary.org.
As far as eating squash right now, here’s one of my favorite preparations for delicata. It’s a simple tactic that also will work for many other winter squashes. wrap it in foil and roast it in a 350 degree oven until a knife can cut through its skin easily. Unwrap, scoop out the seeds and pulp in the middle, drizzle with butter and you’ve got a spectacular side dish. Cooked in this way, the skin of Delicata and many other Cucurbita Pepo squashes also is edible,.
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market at High Rock Park from 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October. The market moves to its winter location at the Lincoln Baths in the Saratoga Spa State Park on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Glazed Roasted Delicata Squash
Author: Eating Well
Shared by My Saratoga Kitchen Table
*Ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 5 pounds delicata squash*
• 4 shallots, quartered lengthwise*
• 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil*
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• ½ cup honey*
• ½ cup cider vinegar*
• ½ cup pomegranate seeds
• ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
• ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped*
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut crosswise into 1-inch slices. Toss the squash slices and shallots with oil, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl. Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets.
3. Roast, turning each pieces over halfway through, until squash is tender and caramelized in spots, 30-40 minutes. Transfer the squash and shallots to a serving platter.
4. A few minutes before serving, combine honey, vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook, watching closely toward the end, until reduced to about ½ cup, 5 to 8 minutes. Immediately drizzle the syrup over the squash. Serve topped with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and mint.