Hudson Valley local autumnal produce near The Culinary Institute of America's New York campus. Photographed for the DISH Program. Pumpkins in a pumpkin patch
'Tis the season. Well, one of them! As you know, we're big fans of seasonal eating, and winter squash season is a pretty big league time of the year for foodies. Winter squash, often called hard-skinned squashes are, you know, the squashes with hard skins. That means we're putting away our zucchinis and yellow squash,…

CIA FOODIES


Squash Season

'Tis the season. Well, one of them! As you know, we're big fans of seasonal eating, and winter squash season is a pretty big league time of the year for foodies. Winter squash, often called hard-skinned squashes are, you know, the squashes with hard skins. That means we're putting away our zucchinis and yellow squash, and the cute little Pattypans at the farmers' market, and we're trading them in for the big boys! Butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin! They're all related, but very different in many ways. Most hard-skinned squashes are best peeled before they are eaten, with the exception of acorn squash, delicata, and honeynut. A good rule of thumb is that the smaller the squash, the more tender the skin will be (looking at you, cute Pattypans!). Peeling a hard-skinned squash can be tough. You'll need a lot of elbow grease, a sharp knife, and a strong will. First trim your squash into manageable pieces with flat ends (we usually half a butternut just above the bulb, for example), and then use your knife to shave down the sides. You can use a peeler, but it will need to be a nice, heavy-duty variety. Once you've got the squash peeled, you'll want to cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. You can compost your seeds or reserve them to roast for a little snack. From there, you can cook the squash in large pieces, great for roasting or stuffing, or you can cut them into bite-size portions to cook however you like. Sometimes, especially if you're aiming for a squash flesh that you will purée into a mash or for soup, the path of least resistance is to cut your squash in half or thirds lengthwise, depending on the size, and roast it with the skin on. Let it cool for a few minutes and then use a spoon to scoop out the edible portion. This is a great technique for spaghetti squash, which can be roasted or even steamed in halves before scooping the strands. You might be familiar with the USA-favorites, like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti, but squash is actually a very popular ingredient in many global cuisines, like Mexican, Japanese, and Indian. Explore international markets and you'll find many new varieties to try, like kabocha, kuri, calabasa, or a variety of colorful squashes that may simply be referred to as "pumpkins." If you're lucky, you might even meet a friendly shopper who shares their favorite recipe! Oh, and just a note for all the bakers: there is no shame in using canned pumpkin. Pumpkins are hard to deal with, and frankly, most recipes are written using canned pumpkin as a reference, so using a cooked, fresh pumpkin purée might actually end up interfering with the balance of ingredients. If you want to get in on the squash season fun, here are some of our favorite recipes: Squash Soup with Ginger Cream Risotto with Winter Squash and Sweet Sausage Israeli Couscous Risotto with Pumpkin and Chantarelle Mushrooms Vegetarian Chili with Winter Squash and Wild Mushrooms Pumpkin Date Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

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