We just can't get enough of wonderful winter squash at the moment. We're lucky to have Mike Eades just up the road on the hills overlooking Bath who supplies us with the most beautiful variety of winter squash in all their marvellous shapes and sizes. Most supermarkets stock Butternut, but there's a whole world of winter squashes out there: Crown Prince, Kabocha, and Onion squash, just to name a few. It's hard to beat the beautiful glow of their flesh. And you'll find that many of these more exotic winter squashes have a deeper, nuttier, richer flavour than Butternut Squash.
To help you take advantage of the world of winter squash, we've put together our top tips and tasty recipes for making the most of them. Read on!
For those lucky enough to have space to grow squash, they can rampage all over your garden and they like to grow in rich fertile ground with lots of compost. Pick the squash when the leaves have begun to die down, as then the squash will be fully ripe.
The best places to buy winter squash are in farmers markets, where in season there will be a great choice. Choose ones that are not too big and are firm to the touch. Supermarkets sell butternut squash all the year round and often a selection of squash in the Autumn.
Squashes and pumpkins are varieties of the Cucurbita family and divide into two types: summer and winter. The skin of summer varieties, such as courgettes, is thin and will not store, while winter squashes have a hard skin and will store for months in a cool dark place so they can be stored well into the New Year.
Among my select winter squashes are the onion squash, which is shaped liked a giant onion and has fluorescent orange skin with bright orange flesh. I also like the Crown Prince, which is pale blue/green and shaped like a flying saucer with paler orange flesh. There's also the Kabocha, which is smaller, knobbly, dark green with pale green stripes and dense sweet orange flesh. And of course, the Turks Turban (pictured below), the most exotic looking!
Hard skins mean winter squashes are not so easy to peel, so it’s easier to roast them with the skin on and then scoop out the soft flesh when cooked. Or simply cut into slices and roast with the skin on, as the roasted skin is surprisingly tender and delicious. One exception is butternut squash, which does have a thin enough skin to peel with a sharp peeler.
Be very careful when you slice squash as the skin can be very hard to cut through, use a large knife on a solid chopping board, first cut each squash in half and slice off the stem, scoop out the seeds and then cut crescent moon shaped slices.
Roasting is by far better than boiling as it intensifies the flavour of the squash.
Add squash to stews and curries as it takes up the strong spices really well.
Squash is delicious raw too and with the craze for spiralising, it work a treat and look beautiful in salads.
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