Monday, October 1, 2012

Tidbits: Quick Acorn Squash

It's fall in Michigan and time for squash!

Acorn squash is a winter squash, meaning that it has a hard shell and can be stored for a month or more in a cool, dry place for later eating. Acorn squash has a medium yellow flesh, and contains some vitamin A (but if you're looking for lots of beta carotene/vitamin A, check out hubbard squash with over ten times the carotene, or butternut squash, with over 20 times the beta carotene. The darker orange the flesh, the more beta carotene it contains). Acorn squash also provides 110 calories per cup, 20 grams carb, 9 grams fiber, and 22 milligrams vitamin C.

Normally, it takes a little planning to have a fresh winter squash for dinner. The traditional way of preparing them is to wash the outside very well (they sit in the soil), carefully slice them in half, scoop out the seeds, and then season and bake for an hour or so at 350 degrees F.

If you don't have that much time, but want to have squash, here is a quick tip I learned from a farmer at the market last year.  Wash the acorn squash, poke it with a sharp knife in several places, then microwave on high for 15 minutes. Be sure to cook it on a glass pie plate or something similar so you can get this hot squash out of the microwave oven. Ask me how I know.

Now, slice the squash in half, scoop out the steaming seeds (save them for the squirrels). Season squash and eat. I microwaved the squash above, but finished baking it in the regular oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes because I like it to have a little brown color (and the chicken legs were lonely in the oven).

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