Squash Varieties And Cooking Techniques

Squash varieties offer many different tastes and textures and, since some squash types store extremely well, their flavors can be savored and enjoyed for months. Summer and winter squash call for different cooking techniques, but you can create some amazing side dishes no matter what kind of squash you grow.

Summer Squash
Summer squash comes in two main varieties: long slender yellow squash with plain necks or with crook necks and long slender green zucchini squash. Both varieties can and will grow to huge proportions if not picked within the first week. As they grow their skins will continue to toughen, but summer squash will not last as long as winter squash. Because summer squash is a soft squash, it is a perfect vegetable for just about anything while it's still young and tender.

Yellow Summer Squash: Boil yellow squash, scoop out most of the pulp and add it to a cup of finely chopped red pepper, a lightly beaten egg, 3 to 4 green onions and salt and pepper. Mix well, and then stuff the hollowed-out pepper with the mixture. Bake it for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Zucchini Squash: Stuff zucchini with onions, garlic, cooked minced pork, ginger and tomato paste, and bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Both summer squash and zucchini are also delicious when fried (battered or plain) in butter with a little salt and pepper. Zucchini is also a perfect ingredient in sweet bread.

Winter Squash
Winter squash are the types that grow late in the season and are much harder than summer squashes. This type of squash can be stored for up to several months in a cool, dark area and is best when roasted or baked.

Acorn Squash: Shaped like a dark green acorn, this type of squash is best when baked. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and place the squash cut side up on a baking dish. Add a pat of butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Some people prefer butter and brown sugar.) Bake the squash for about 30 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spaghetti Squash: This squash is dark yellow when ripe and can be cooked quickly and efficiently in the microwave. Cut the squash in half, and then place it cut side down in a casserole dish. Add 1 inch of water to the dish, and microwave for 6 to 10 minutes, checking often. When the squash has softened, use a fork to scrape out the flesh. The flesh will come out in strings. Add a little butter, salt and pepper, and you have a delicious meal.

Butternut Squash: This bottom-heavy, light tan squash should be large when picked. It is delicious when used in pie. The next time you make pumpkin pie, substitute butternut squash for mashed pumpkin. Though the pie will not be as orange-brown as a normal pumpkin pie, it will be every bit as good, and your guests will not know the difference.

Hubbard Squash: This squash can be anywhere from pale green to blue-gray to orange. It is oval in shape and bumpy along the outside with sweet orange flesh on the inside. It is a relatively dry squash, which means little volume is lost when cooking. Hubbard squash is excellent when baked. Because an average size for Hubbard squash is about 20 pounds, it's best to cube this squash before roasting or baking.

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