Last Wednesday I collected my fifteenth (not 16- apparently I lost count when I went out of town) Sol to Seed Farm CSA share from Grand Central Baking Co the day before leaving for a trip to see family and friends in New Mexico. That also meant that I didn’t cook at home until Sunday. Since then, I have roasted and stored the sweet peppers and am making a green chili stew with the remaining chilies, potatoes, onions and tomatillos. Instead of making kimchi, I may end up using the Napa in a quick stir-fry. Last week’s box included:
Potatoes – 2.5/lbs
Winter Squash – Red Kuri (kabocha)
Tomatillos – 1/lb
– hot mix
– sweet mix
…and a free loaf of Goldendale Wheat Bread
The dogs enduring a quick photo shoot before I head to the airport
Correctly preparing and storing whole winter squash is misunderstood by even experienced cooks. Last year, a local hospital that I help with local food procurement (through the Farm to Table program), had to discard twenty large bags of raw, cubed winter squash because they missed the critical step of cooking it before freezing. Compared to summer squash, winter squash is tough on the outside to protect it from the elements, while the starchy interior “flesh” cells are weak. Freezing raw squash results in messy and inedible sludge when thawed, but summer squash can be frozen raw successfully. Always remember to bake or steam winter squash before freezing. The thawed pulp can be added to soups, pasta, baked goods and casseroles later.
If you plan to eat the squash this season, you’ll be pleased to know that winter squash keeps very well uncut, as long as it’s stored in a cool, dry environment. I’ve saved a few small pumpkins last year — Acorn and Delicata squash — for months unrefrigerated on my counter. Most winter squash have a very tough peel which make it difficult to cut, so please always use a very sharp knife and be very careful. Some varieties of winter squash have very thin (but still tough to cut raw) but edible peels, such as last week’s Delicata and Sugar Dumpling. For these squash varieties, it’s not necessary to peel the squash before cooking and eating. While there are recipes that call for raw winter squash, I am not a fan. I prefer winter squash roasted or braised.
Farmer Matt explained a little bit about the red kuri squash in his weekly email to CSA subscribers:
“The red kuri winter squash is typically thought of as a Japanese squash similar to kabocha, although not actually a kabocha – it is often referred to as hokkaido squash. They have an incredibly full, sweet flavor and the flesh is very dry. They are THE BEST soup squash in our humble opinion, however, are also wonderful when baked like a traditional table squash (salt, pepper and butter).”
A few nights ago I roasted the Sugar Dumpling squash from last week’s box and ate it as a side dish to pan-fried grass-fed, organic steak from Skagit River Ranch. Again, the recipes I choose to share with readers on this blog are meant to be very simple and quick to prepare, so that cooks of all levels can feel comfortable executing for weeknight meals without a lot of fuss. Generally winter squash is high in carbohydrates so if you are adhering to a low-carb/low-sugar diet, you should eat sparingly. Winter squash is also high in Vitamin A and C, which the body needs a lot of in the winter time.
Roasted Sugar Dumpling Squash
Cumin-Scented Sugar Dumpling (can also use Delicata the same way)
- 1 Sugar Dumpling squash, cut in half, seeds removed and sliced in 1/2 inch wedges
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange squash slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the slices then sprinkle the seasonings before tossing with clean hands to coat. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until browned but not burnt. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
Two more weeks of this year’s CSA!