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In Season: Winter Squash

The air is crisp and you’re looking for comfort food that isn’t apple pie.  Where should you turn?  To the overflowing stash of winter squash that is piling up at farmers markets and grocery stores everywhere. Winter squash are excellent sources of beta-carotene (a precurser to vitamin A), and also contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber and folate.  Look for heavy squash with matte skins that are free of blemishes. Whole squash can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.  Cut squash should wrapped, refrigerated and eaten in a few days.  Here are cooking suggestions for some of the more popular varieties:

Butternut Squash

This squash is delicious pureed as a soup or simply baked in the oven. To bake, cut the squash into 1 inch cubes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then place on parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for ~20 minutes.  Turn after 10 minutes and test with a fork for tenderness.  No time to chop?  Butternut squash is commonly found pre-cut at your local grocery store.

Acorn Squash

Simple and comforting, this is the perfect squash for multitasking with dinner prep.  Simply cut it in half, remove the seeds, rub the cut side with olive oil and place cut-side down on a baking dish lined with parchment paper.   Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn, rub the cut side with 1/4 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.  Bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.  You’ll have at least 45 minutes to prep dinner while the squash is in the oven!

Pumpkin

Whether you’re making pie, pumpkin butter or simply carving one for Halloween, the benefits of pumpkins don’t end with the flesh.  You can easily roast the seeds for a delicious snack!  Simply rinse off the pulp, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, and lightly coat with olive oil or a non-stick cooking spray and a touch of salt.  Place in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  Stir after 10 minutes and check every 5 minutes past 20 minutes.  Let them cool and store in an airtight container.

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