Sept 28 – Oh My Gourd!

It’s that time of year again! I love seasons because eating the same thing everyday (even if it’s amazing like German Maultaschen) gets old and dull. Enter in seasons! In the winter, we tend to eat less (or should), and stick to hearty soups/stews, warming spices in our coffee, tea and foods, eat good amounts of fats and meats, etc. In the Spring/Summer, it’s berries, tomatoes, summer squash and greens (probably a lot more). But in the Fall, you get to snatch up your last fill of fresh veggies, while starting to transition into apples, citrus, cruciferous vegetables and … WINTER SQUASH like butternut, sugar pumpkin, acorn squash, buttercup, red kuri, kabocha, spaghetti and many more. They’re similar in many ways to their summer cousins, but they’re given more time to grow and, in adapting to the cooler temp, develop thicker skin and heartier seeds.

Last night, I roasted two types of gourd: Sugar Pumpkin and Buttercup (not butterNUT) Squash. Amazing stuff.. and so simple. My dad has always made his famous Butternut Squash on Thanksgiving by cutting of the thick skin, spooning out the seeds/fibers, cubing, then boiling and mashing. BUT… that’s SO much harder than it needs to be (and brown sugar’s unnecessary). You need only to cut the gourd (fun word) in half, scrape out the seeds (save for roasting), then place face down in the oven at 350 for about 30-35 min. Roasting (vs boiling) is faster, cleaner and preserves more of the nutrients which are poured out when the squash is drained. Then when you take them out, the flesh practically falls out of the “jacket” into the bowl for simple mashing. Simply add MUCHO butter or olive oil and salt. Done! Also, depending on the gourd, spices like nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and all-spice are great!

Of the two I made last night, the Buttercup Squash was the best. Very thick and buttery on it’s own, though I still added more of my own along with some salt, whle the sugar pumpkin just was that great overall and maybe is better suited to be pureed and mixed with broth as a soup. Didn’t stand up alone for me. Over the course of this Autumn/Winter, I intend to try out every possible gourd variety in the Northeast (or at least most). They’re definately NOT low-carb, but compared to grains or white potatoes, they pack a huge punch with tons of vitamin B’s, beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Plus, the seeds taste great and are high in Zinc and Magnesium! All-around powerhouse of the Fall/Winter months! So much so, that these “sides” over-shadowed the incredibly tender, juicy pork loin that Steph and I had last night! Great meat, better gourd.. I love variety.

Side note: Like rectangles and squares, squashes are always gourds, but not all gourds are necessarily squashes!

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