Stretch Your Food Dollar: Winter Squash
Fall is officially here, and not just because it’s the end of September and the calendar says so. I know it’s Fall because winter squash is starting to show up at the grocery store. Winter squash is a great way to stretch your food dollar because it will keep on the shelf for quit some time, thanks to the thick skin that most winter varieties, like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, have.
This week my favorite grocery store had acorn squash on sale for 37 cents a pound! The easiest way to prepare acorn squash is to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, place it face down on a cookie sheet that has an inch of water in it, then roast it in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. You have two options at this point.
Make a stuffing with cooked rice, chopped celery, carrots, and onions, and some vegan sausage. Season it with sage and paprika, salt and pepper. If you really wanted to be fancy you could add some chopped pecans to the stuffing. Put the stuffing in the hallowed-out center of the acorn squash, then put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes.
After the squash comes out of the oven, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and put it in the food processor. Add some butter and a little milk (or vegetable stock). Puree the squash until it’s nice and smooth. You can season this with brown sugar, nutmeg, and ginger. Or you could go for a more savory flavor combination like rosemary and sage.
Both of these preparation methods would work for butternut squash. And pureed pumpkin and turban squash are both delicious. Incidentally, we’ve discovered that our dog prefers vegetables to meaty dog food, and he is a big fan of the pureed squash. Lucky us, since it’s cheaper than canned dog food.
Spaghetti squash can be a bit of a mystery if you’re not used to preparing it. The easiest way to do this is to cut it in half and seed it, just like the acorn squash. Roast it on a cookie sheet with an inch of water for 30-40 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, scoop out the flesh and set it aside. I like to saute some portobello mushrooms, then add fresh basil and chopped tomatoes (you can use canned or fresh). Hit this with a little red wine, season it with salt and pepper, then add the squash to the pan. Toss everything together, top it off with some Parmesan cheese and you’ve got a low-carb, low-fat main dish.
I’ll save the pumpkin recipes for my next post. (When Starbucks rolls out the pumpkin lattes, you really know it’s Fall!) So stay tuned for my favorite pumpkin recipes. Until then – bon apetit!
Photo credit: stock.xchng