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What's in Season? Winter Squash

08/29/2014 03:45PM ● Published by Style

The calendar may say summer (until September 23!), but now is the perfect time to enjoy winter squash. The name winter squash doesn’t refer to the time of year it’s in season or consumed; rather, these types of vegetables are known as good keepers, often “keeping” throughout the winter and even into early spring.

SELECTION AND STORAGE
The best winter squash are heavy for their size with a rind that appears slightly worn. Look for squash with stems, as they will last longer and are less susceptible to rotting. The best ones should appear firm and absent of blemishes or soft spots. Winter squash can be kept for at least one week—and sometimes up to six months—if stored away from direct exposure to light and extreme heat or cold. If you decide to store winter squash after it’s cut, cover it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to two days. When it comes to preparing, steaming is a cooking method that requires little time; many people also prefer roasting it with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper. If you decide to bake it, don’t worry about pre-peeling; once cooked, the skin can easily be peeled away.

— Susan Belknap

For details on where to buy Placer County farm-fresh produce, wine, meat and local products, visit placergrown.org.

DID YOU KNOW?
Winter squash comes in a variety of shapes and colors, with no two squash species looking the same. Varieties include butternut, acorn, hubbard, turban and kabocha, as well as the fall favorite, pumpkin. Winter squash is low in calories and a good source of vegetable carbohydrates and fiber. It can also be enjoyed as a sweet treat—think butternut squash with brown sugar; or, for a salty snack, try roasting pumpkin seeds at 160-170 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Butternut, kabocha or acorn squash are also delicious in lasagna with goat cheese

HOW TO PAIR WITH WINE
What's better to pair with lasagna than a spicy Italian wine like Barbera? The varietal’s intense flavors of tart cherries, mocha and spice will complement this month’s recipe perfectly. The high acidity and soft tannins of Barbera make it truly the best wine to pair with a fresh tomato marinara sauce. Outstanding examples of this Italian classic can be found at Green Family, Bear River and Fawnridge wineries in Placer County.

Winter Squash Lasagna with Goat Cheese
Recipe by PlacerGROWN Chef Courtney McDonald
 
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 lbs. butternut, kabocha or acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 in. pieces
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 package no-boil lasagna noodles (you may not need all of them)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt on a baking sheet. Season with pepper. Bake until light gold and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Combine ricotta, cream, yolks, and mozzarella in a medium bowl. Season with salt. Melt butter in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. As soon as it starts to sizzle, remove butter from heat and add curry powder and thyme.  Set aside. Place squash in a medium bowl and mash half of it with the back of a wooden spoon, leaving the remaining half in whole pieces. Gently stir in curry-butter mixture and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Spread 3/4 cup of ricotta mixture in a 9-cup baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1/2 of the squash mixture over noodles. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of ricotta mixture over noodles. Repeat layering once more (noodles, squash, noodles, ricotta). Sprinkle Parmesan over ricotta mixture, and top with the crumbled goat cheese. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until cheese is golden and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 6-8.





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