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Posted on Sun. Oct. 14, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Winter, summer squash good year-round

We’ve heard the terms “summer squash” and “winter squash.” It’s kind of weird because you can get summer squashes all winter, and winter squashes pretty much all summer.

Confusing? Yes, but easily explainable.

The terms summer squash and winter squash date back to a time when the seasonal vegetables were available only when they “were in season” – a get-’em-while-you-can kind of mentality existed. Right now the newest crop of winter squashes are just rolling into the marketplace, so now is the time to get them, cook them and eat them.

Winter squash are more typically round in shape and have a harder, non-eatable skin that needs to be peeled. Winter (or fall harvested squash for those of a more literal mind) take longer to mature than summer squash and can be stored for months longer than the summer squashes as long as they are in a cool dry area. You can bake, mash, steam or simmer winter squashes, and, for the most part, they can replace sweet potatoes in almost any recipe.

You can also microwave your squash. Place cut pieces of squash in a shallow glass dish with a little water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave 5 or 6 minutes and test it for softness. Continue checking for doneness at 2- or 3-minute intervals until the squash is soft. You can microwave a whole squash. Just poke the skin all over with a fork (so steam can escape). Microwave the squash 7 to 10 minutes and check to see how soft the squash is.

Casablanca Acorn Squash

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 large acorn squash, halved and seeded

1/4 cup olive oil

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

5 to 6 stalks celery, chopped

4 carrots, shredded

2 cups garbanzo beans, drained

1 cup raisins

3 tablespoons cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth

2 cups uncooked couscous

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Combine the sugar and butter in a sauce pan and heat until they are combined. Baste the inside of the squash with the mixture and set it aside. In a skillet heat the oil and add the garlic, celery and carrots, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, raisins, cumin, salt and pepper, and continue to cook (stirring often) until vegetables are crisp tender. Add the chicken broth and couscous. Cover and turn off heat. Allow the mixture to sit, covered for 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the cover, mix to combine and then fill the squash and serve.

Serves 8.

Cheese and Beef Stuffed Turban Squash

1 large or 2 small turban squash

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 green pepper, diced small

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon fennel

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cutting at a downward angle remove the crown of turban. Scrape out seeds and membrane. Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt. Place the squash in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with the cut opening facing down. Add about 1 inch of water. Bake 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the squash. It should be soft but not mushy. Remove the squash from the oven; turn the cut side up and leave it in the pan.

In a bowl, combine egg, sour cream and Parmesan and mix to combine and set aside. In skillet, combine the beef, onion, garlic, green pepper, thyme and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently for 7 or 8 minutes until the meat is fully cooked. Drain any excess grease and add the parsley. Add the egg mixture to meat mixture and mix to combine. Spoon the beef mixture into the squash. Place the stuffed squash back in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until filling is set. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into slices.

Serves 4.

Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew Pot

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 to 4 pounds skinless bone-in chicken breast

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup chopped celery

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

2/3 cup white wine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sage

1 teaspoon thyme

4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash

1 pound sliced mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas

Heat oil in a large 4 1/2 -quart Dutch oven. Add chicken and brown about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove chicken and add onion, garlic and celery to pan; sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Return chicken to the pan with vegetables. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, salt, pepper, sage, thyme and bring to a boil; simmer about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add the squash, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook an additional or until squash is tender. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 more minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.

– Modified from – Submitted by Ronnie Marchoni of Chicago Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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