By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
The days before Thanksgiving call up turkey, stuffing, gravy, casseroles, and pie – namely pumpkin pie.
Pie is delicious. But there are a wide variety of other squashes, too: acorn, carnival, spaghetti, sweet dumpling, butternut, kabocha, hubbard.
These squashes weigh down tables of the Saratoga Farmers’ Market squash growers. They represent the beauty of the holidays and the abundance of our region’s agriculture.
Squash is part of the Native American three sisters plants, with beans and corn. Along with beans and corn, it was grown for its sweetness, versatility in cooking, high nutrition content, and ability to be stored for long-term use.
While squash vary in size, shape, and color, they generally all can be roasted, steamed, or made into soups or desserts.
The dark green acorn, yellow dumpling, and multi-colored carnival squashes are easy to roast. Use a sharp knife to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds from the center, wrap the halves in foil, and roast them in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. When they can be sliced through easily with a knife, they are ready for eating. Savor them, as is, or add some melted butter, maple syrup, or walnuts for added flavor. Use leftovers to create a soup or hearty stew.
If cutting the squash is too hard, try steaming them whole until they have softened. Once cooled, they can easily be cut and seeded.
Bigger spaghetti squashes make a delicious substitute for pasta. Roast these squashes in halves wrapped in foil for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven, unwrap and allow to cool. Use a fork to create spaghetti-like strands. These strands can then be simmered for a few minutes in a tomato sauce or pesto.
New England pie pumpkins are the classic ingredient for pumpkin pie. Butternut squash makes a nice pie, as well. Kabocha, and hubbard varieties can be substituted.
Some squash varieties – spaghetti, delicata, sweet dumpling, acorn, and carnival, among them – can be stored through early Christmas. Others such as pie pumpkins, kabocha, hubbards, and butternut will last well into late winter or early spring if kept in a cool dark area.