With our summer garden in full swing, our thoughts are turning to what vegetables we'll be planting in our fall garden. We haven't planned out how we're going to arrange furniture when we move into our first house, but we sure have the backyard mapped out! It was a difficult decision, but we're going to start 'small' and only build three 4x4 Square Foot Garden boxes. Only three. Sigh.
When it came time to select seeds, we did exactly what we were warned against in The Book. Author Mel Bartholomew offers some sound advice: Don't go seed shopping by flipping through a seed catalog--you'll want to plant everything you see. Instead, base your seed selections on what your family currently eats and purchases on a weekly basis. Sounds simple enough, right?
We're big dreamers over here, my husband and I. We DO want to plant everything. Only problem is, we haven't actually eaten everything we want to plant in our garden. Solution? Buy it and eat it, of course! Over the next several weeks Kitchen Koala will be bringing you the Veggie Ventures series, which will take a look at the various veggies we were never exposed to but desperately want to grow.
First up: Winter Squash.
I know, I know. You're in disbelief that neither one of us is familiar with these beauties, but it's true. I've had some exposure to butternut squash, but I've never bought any to cook at home. Hubby on the other hand, can't recall if he's ever had any type of winter squash (pumpkin aside), so we thought it would be a good idea to pick up a variety of squash to try out. To prep them for baking, you'll need a heavy, sharp knife to cut them in half. It helps to hold your knife vertically rather than horizontally to start. Stab straight down the middle and all the way down to the cutting board, then make your cut. Repeat for the other side.
Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and pulp. If this were homegrown squash, I'd save the seeds for planting the next season. Since these came from who knows where and could possibly be hybrid varieties, saving seeds to plant might not be the best idea.
Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking pan with foil. Place squash on the pan cut side down and pierce the skin with a fork to allow steam to escape. Give the squash plenty of room on the baking pan. Don't do what I did below. I was determined to make them fit on one pan. Mistake. The 3 pieces in the middle weren't done at the same time as the others.
Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes, or until squash is tender. (The middle pieces on my pan took an additional 20 minutes to finish baking) Let cool at least 15 minutes, or until you can easily handle the squash halves. Scoop out the flesh for use in recipes (more on that next week!) Yields will vary depending on the size of your squash.
Winter squash lovers: What are your favorite recipes?