Late Summer and early Fall is the time of the year when we can taste the widest variety of fresh vegetables and fruits from our local farmers. On the fruit front: stone fruits of all types (peaches, nectarines and plums), melons, grapes, pears and apples. All are full of health boosting phytonutrients and antioxidants. On the vegetable end of the spectrum you will find greens of all sorts, beans, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, soft squashes like zuchinni and hard squashes.
My personal favorite hard squashes are delicata, butternut and the creamy kabocha. In this year’s garden I’ve grown Potimarron squash – a French heirloom variety. I’m looking forward to trying the few that the squirrels left for me.
Hard squashes are also known as winter squashes – not because they’re harvested in the winter but because their hard shell allows them to be kept through the long winter. Hard squashes are typically harvested from August to late Fall.
Hard squashes are rich in beta carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), vitamin C, potassium and fiber. With it’s sweet flavor, it’s often associated with dessert, but this orange fleshed vegetable would be a nutrient rich addition to your diet in place of potatoes or other starchy foods.
Easy to prepare, you can cut into chunks and roast or steam. Add a tiny pat of butter or extra virgin olive oil so you can absorb the fat soluble vitamins. As well, use a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If you want some spice, a little cinnamon is also a nice addition.
If you have a bit more time, here’s a recipe for my favorite Thai curry.
Thai Kabocha Squash & Green Bean Red Curry
2 tsp coconut or sunflower oil
2 Tbs. red curry paste – Mae Ploy or Thai Kitchen
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tsp palm sugar (or substitute sucanat or brown sugar)
1 Tbs Fish sauce
1 1/2-lb. kabocha or other winter squash
1 cup green beans cut into 1” pieces
1 Tbs Thai basil, chopped (or substitute Basil and a few leaves of mint)
Peel and cut the kabocha into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks. Trim green beans into 1 inch pieces.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the red curry and stir for a few seconds, then add the water, coconut milk and fish sauce.
Add the kabocha chunks. Stir into the sauce. If there is not enough sauce to barely cover the squash pieces, add a little more water.