Hooray For Winter Squash!

Hooray For Winter Squash!

Squash!

That's a very interesting word with a wonderful history.

When the Narragansett Native Americans would talk about some of their gourds, they would use the word "askutasquash", meaning "eaten uncooked or raw." Since squash are members of the gourd family, and some of them can be eaten without being cooked, the name stuck.

Squash have been known in North America for a LONG time. Thousands of years ago in Mexico, the Aztecs and Mayans cultivated and ate squash in many different ways. In just a bit, we'll share a Mayan inspired recipe!

Here are some more interesting facts about squash.

Squash are divided into summer varieties and winter varieties. Summer squash have thinner rinds and smaller seeds and grow from early spring, producing their fruit throughout the summer. Winter squash grow all summer long and are usually ready to pick in the fall.

Most kinds of squash grow on vines that spread over large areas of the garden. But if they have something to climb on, like a trellis, the vines will grow right over it, and the squash will swing from the vines.

Let's learn about winter squash!

Winter squash are hearty and have thick rinds that protect and keep them fresh in storage for up to 4 months. This way, people could have fresh vegetables throughout the winter back when they didn't have refrigerators. Some of the rinds are so thick, they can be used as dishes! Did you ever see a dipper made from a gourd?

Some popular varieties of winter squash include

  • acorn
  • delicata
  • pattypan
  • butternut
  • spaghetti
  • turban
  • pumpkin (yes, it's a squash, too!)

In the eat2explore USA North box, you can find a recipe using spaghetti squash. Once this variety of squash is cooked, the inside comes out like spaghetti!

Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Healthy Cooking

Besides tasting amazing, winter squash is full of nutrients to keep you healthy. Vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, and magnesium all come together in this healthy vegetable.

All parts of winter squash can be used. The rinds can be made into drinking vessels, bowls, and birdhouses. The seeds can be roasted or saved to grow more squash next year. The leaves and flowers can also be eaten. The inside of the squash can be prepared in many different ways.

Roasted or baked, winter squash develops a sweet flavor. Steamed or sauteed squash can be pureed and put into smoothies, pies, or homemade bread. Can you think of one way we can eat it "askutasquash?" Hint: it involves a juicer!

Ancient Mexican Hot Chocolate

And now, check out this awesome recipe using leftover roasted butternut squash to make a hot, chocolatey drink the Aztecs or Mayans may have made.

The next time you roast some plain butternut squash (no salt or seasonings!)butternut squash cut into halves eat2explore

save out 2/3 cup of the cooked squash and blend it with 1/2 cup of milk and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat up 2 cups of milk, and 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips or baking chocolate on the stove. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 pinch nutmeg.

Keep stirring so your milk doesn't boil over or burn while the chocolate melts.

Remove your pan from the stove and whisk in your squash/milk puree, then return to the stove to heat through.

Serve in mugs with mini marshmallows or honey if you like!

Pouring hot chocolate from a pan to a mug. eat2explore

This recipe was inspired by Chef Jesus Gonzalez of Rancho de la Puerta.