By Elke ProbkevitzWhen autumn starts right around Rosh Hashanah time, the market is filled with beautiful gourds of every shape and color. They are so interesting and beautiful, the perfect adornment for your fall tablescape. This selection of autumn produce is pleasing not just to the eye, but also to the palate. Here are a number of delectable gourds that you can incorporate into your yom tov meals or even a healthy fall dinner any night of the week.
Gourds are actually fleshy, large fruit with hard skin, but are used mostly for savory dishes so are assumed to be vegetables. There are more than a dozen species of gourds, but three species are edible: Cucurbita maxima, C. moschata, and C. pepo. Cucurbita maxima include Buttercup, Kuri, and Hubbard squash as well as all giant pumpkins. Cucurbita moschata are known for their tan skin, sweet flesh, and elongated, bulbous shape, like butternut squash. Cucurbita pepo include other pumpkins, spaghetti squash, delicata squash, and all summer squash.
Pumpkin. Most are not as flavorful as you might think. Use small sugar pumpkins for a non-stringy flesh with a sweet flavor. Most canned pumpkin actually contains varieties of Cucurbita moschata like butternut squash!
Butternut. A thin-skinned winter squash with dense orange flesh, butternut squash is flavorful but not too sweet. It is the most versatile of all the squash, and tastes great roasted alone or with a braised meat, in a pie, or in pasta like lasagna or ravioli. It can also be used for sweet applications in desserts like cheesecake.
Acorn. Named for their acorn-like shape, these are green with an orange blush. They have a sweet, slightly fibrous flesh. They cannot be peeled, so are cut into wedges to be roasted. Smaller acorn squash are halved and can be stuffed and served for a vegetarian entrée or side dish. Roasted acorn squash can be used to make risotto or added to grain or green salads.
Kabocha. A Japanese variety of squash, kabocha are stumpy, round, and wide. They have a green exterior with dense, moist, fluffy flesh. They are sweet and flavorful, but can be a little dry and flaky when cooked. The flesh holds its shape in soups and stews, unlike other squash, which can fall apart.
Spaghetti. A squash that looks like a yellow watermelon, its flesh can be scraped into spaghetti-like strands when cooked, which is excellent for a low-carb pasta substitute that is tender with a sweet flavor.
Delicata. Some of the most fragile of the winter squash, delicata are long and thin-skinned with a sweet, nutty flesh. They can be used in place of sweet potato in any recipe or stuffed and baked. Make an apple-and-sausage stuffing, roast, and add to a salad with pomegranate seeds and maple dressing, or incorporate into a one-pot meal in a chicken stew. v
Arugula Salad With Caramelized Squash, Pecans, And Pomegranate Dressing
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 acorn squash or 2 delicata squash, sliced in ½”-thick rounds, seeds removed
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 tsp. brown sugar (optional)
½ cup whole pecans, chopped
¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice (mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom)
6 cups baby arugula
1 avocado, sliced
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 seedless cucumber, sliced
⅓ cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup apple-cider vinegar
½ tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
⅓ cup olive oil
Heat coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat. Season slices of squash with salt and pepper and place in skillet. Add brown sugar (optional). Cook till golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, heat small saucepan over low heat and add pecans. Toast until golden and fragrant, stirring for 5 minutes. Immediately toss with pumpkin pie spice.
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Place arugula in a large bowl with salt and pepper. Add avocado, pomegranate seeds, cucumber, pecans, and squash pieces. Drizzle with pomegranate dressing and serve.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.