As the days and nights get cooler, I find myself making more soups and stews. For those of you who are new to the farm I wanted to refer you to my post on how to make veggie broth from vegetable scraps. This is a cheap, healthful, efficient way to use every bit of your CSA produce to a useful end. If you don’t already make your own veggie broth, I strongly encourage you to read this post and try it….it is incredibly easy (veggie broth link).
Featured Item—Acorn Squash
You know it is fall at the CSA when the summer squash gives way to the winter squash. Of all the winter squash varieties, I think acorn squash has to be the quintessential “fall” winter squash…it looks like an acorn (hence it namesake) and is a popular adornment in harvest decorations. But it is also a wonderful squash to eat. While its skin has the characteristic hardness of winter squash, in small quantities (like when sliced into thin half-moons and roasted) it can be eaten with little difficulty. The flesh of acorn squash is a beautiful fall colored yellow-orange that tends to stay fairly firm when cooked. It has a sweet yet nutty taste that pairs wonderfully with other typical fall flavors, like apples, pears, sage, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
Like other winter squash, acorn squash is a nutritional powerhouse, containing high amounts of vitamins (especially A and C), minerals (potassium and magnesium), dietary fiber, and antioxidants (beta carotene). Just one-half cup serving of acorn squash contains five grams of fiber, most of which is the soluble type, thought to help the body regulate blood sugar. One cup of acorn squash delivers one-third of the daily value of Vitamin C, important for immune and cardiovascular health. In addition to all these health benefits, acorn squash is also fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free.
Choose medium sized acorn squash that feel heavy for their size, have a smooth, dull skin, and no soft spots or splits. It is best to store winter squash in cool, dark areas like a cellar with a temperature of around 50 degrees. When stored properly, acorn squash can be kept upwards of 3 months. Once refrigerated, it will only last about two weeks before the skin starts to soften and grow mold. If you wish to freeze winter squash, it is important to cook it first.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the distribution line-up until late this week so I was not able to create any of my own recipes for acorn squash. Instead, I perused the Internet and found several interesting preparation ideas and recipes which are referenced below:
This salad recipe was originally developed for Sunshine squash, another winter squash variety, but it would work just as well with acorn squash. I thought it would be useful to reprint it here since we will also be receiving arugula in this week’s share. If you are lucky enough to pick raspberries this week, consider swapping out the cranberries for fresh Holcomb raspberries.
The recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics, 2008
Acorn Squash and Arugula Salad with Lighter Cider Vinaigrette Serves 4
– 1 acorn squash, roasted, with skin on, chopped into 1/2″ pieces (with or without skin)
– 1 tablespoon maple syrup
– 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
– very small red onion, like Red of Tropea, minced
– 1 1/4 cups apple cider
– 1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch
– 2 teaspoons water
– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
– 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, plus 1 teaspoon
– 6 handfuls arugula
– 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
– 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
– 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Spread diced roasted squash on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with maple syrup. Set aside.
- Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved and well mixed. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add cider. Bring to a boil. Boil until cider is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in cornstarch mixture and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in Dijon, cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place arugula, roasted squash, walnuts and grated Parmesan in a large bowl. Toss in vinaigrette gradually until leaves are well coated (you might not use all the dressing). Serve immediately.