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Julie Kelly's Blog

Cooking with squash is a little bit like parenthood – it’s a lot of work, somewhat dangerous and frustrating but the end result can be delightful and rewarding.

Tackling a gourd is not for the faint-of-heart, which is why most people prefer to use them for a Thanksgiving centerpiece instead of for dinner. If not for the many health benefits – and the versatility – I’d agree with relegating squash to the Halloween haystack. But adventure is part of your culinary approach, right? So now is the time to master the gourd.

Gourds like butternut squash are actually a fruit, so it lends itself to many different preparations. One of my favorite ways to eat acorn squash is to slice in half and roast with butter and brown sugar. This is a great way to get kids to eat it.

Other ways to incorporate squash into your autumn diet include:

  • Use spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles. If you happen to be one of those crazy people trying to avoid carbs, it’s an excellent substitute to satisfy those pasta cravings. If you’re not trying to avoid carbs, try it anyways and just eat more garlic bread on the side.
  • Roast cubes of butternut squash to use in salads and risotto. One of my favorite recipes of all time is a pancetta and butternut squash risotto finished with mascarpone.
  • Try your hand at pumpkin bisque or soup. Or another family favorite, pumpkin cheesecake. This is a delicious alternative to the standard pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert.

A few rules when managing squash. Make sure your knife is sharp. A dull knife (as always, but particularly when cutting squash) is a cooking hazard. When slicing a round gourd like an acorn squash, cut off a tiny edge to flatten one side so the squash will remain stabilized and not roll around while cutting. And yes, remove the seeds. Use a vegetable peeler instead of a paring knife to peel the squash, this will hopefully help eliminate any need for a tourniquet. Blood on the dinner plate – not so appetizing.

This is my recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash, a relatively simple one-dish dinner you can make ahead of time and bake before dinner. 

Click Here For Recipe

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"Julie, I really enjoyed your class and took way more away than I ever thought I would. I never in a million years thought a cooking class would make me excited to try new things!! So my hat's off to you. You are a great teacher and the recipes are so good!" 

 

Susie C., Orland Park