Come December, it’s easy to turn to pasta as a (nightly) dinner option. But incorporating vegetables into the mix nearly justifies the habit. Ellie’s Macaroni and 4 Cheeses adds squash to the classic dish. Her recipe calls for frozen pureed winter squash, but since there are so many varieties available fresh right now, in-season acorn squash works well, too.
Continue Reading Fall Fest: Winter Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Pumpkin-flavored lattes, cookies and just about anything else that could potentially be flavored with spicy pumpkin-y flavors are shoved in our faces from the day after Labor Day until (very similar to Cinderella) they disappear at midnight on Thanksgiving. But they don’t! Actual pumpkins are not always meant to taste like they’re going in a pie with cinnamon and nutmeg. When’s the last time you grabbed one of these hunky guys from the grocery store and just went to town? I’m talking about getting down and dirty with some winter squash, roasting it and adding it to some risotto, or making your own pumpkin puree because it’s seriously that easy. You know you want to.
Carved pumpkins are cute on your doorstep, but they turn out starchy and not super flavorful when you cook them. For cooking, you’re going to want pumpkins labeled pie, sugar or cheese, and the smaller ones tend to be sweetest.
The easiest way to prep your pumpkin, after carefully cutting around the stem to remove, is to scoop out the fibers and seeds, and either cut the pumpkin in half and roast, or peel and cut it into large dice and boil in water or chicken stock. Don’t forget to save the seeds! Rinse them off, removing any fibers, blot dry, then toss with some olive oil and spices before roasting (try these Spicy Pumpkin Seeds or Spiced Pepitas) for an addictive, crunchy snack.
So if you’ve already had it with the holidays (and it’s not even technically the holiday season yet) take a look below to remember why we love autumn. Because: pumpkins.
- Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Bread (pictured above) can easily be made into pumpkin muffins by switching baking vessels.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Pumpkins
In our humble opinion, Thanksgiving is superior to any other day of the year. In an effort to make this year’s feast the best of all time (sorry, Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe), we’re bringing you the recipes, how-tos and decorating ideas to help you become a Turkey Day pro.
Are you feeling pumpkin-ed out? We are fully entrenched in pumpkin season, with the pumpkin-centric holiday of Thanksgiving just around the corner and toothy jack-o’-lanterns still grinning devilishly from neighborhood doorsteps and windows. But a few weeks ago, before we slid too far down the rabbit hole of pumpkin lattes, cheesecakes and gnocchi, and with Thanksgiving dessert preparations on the brain, the Cooking Channel editorial and culinary teams began debating one very serious and simple question: Which pumpkin, or other kind of squash, makes the best pumpkin pie?
To find this important answer, we decided to set up a near-scientific experiment. We roasted various squash varieties, pureed their innards and baked them into the same pie recipe, comparing resulting pies for color, texture and flavor. We incorporated canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes into the test as experimental controls, since we generally knew what flavor and texture to expect from both. We tasted all of the purees as well as the final pies, focusing on the filling (since the pre-approved crust was the same for each).
To orient you in this taste test, we’ll tell you how the varieties of pumpkins and winter squash are related (pumpkins are a kind of winter squash — we’ll refer to them interchangeably in this test). There are three major families within that group:
Continue Reading Perfect Pumpkin Pie: Which Squash Squashes the Competition?
Vegetable lasagna is highly underrated. I find that layering textured vegetables in between melted cheese and pasta creates a comforting casserole that stands well on its own. There’s also so much more variety than your standard meat-and-tomato-sauce lasagna. The vegetables can be interchangeable depending on the seasons, and you can use a tomato sauce or a creamy white Bechamel sauce. On a limited budget this summer, I regularly cooked vegetable lasagna studded with red pepper, summer squash and mushroom, and this carnivore became an instant believer in the vegetable lasagna. In fact, I stopped calling it “meatless lasagna” altogether, as if something was lacking in them. I think they are more properly described as, “hardy, cheesy, vegetable-laden lasagna.”
Continue Reading Fall Fest: Pumpkin and Winter Squash Lasagna
I recently went home to Nebraska to visit my parents’ pumpkin patch, a fall festival open only during the month of October. While I love the abundance of festive jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, I also have another reason I love going to the pumpkin patch: winter squash. This year I took interest in the different varieties of squash my dad grows on the farm for some post-Halloween eating.
Some of my favorites include Acorn’s yellow-hued cousin called Cream of the Crop, which has a mellow, delicious flavor. I also enjoy the Southern favorite Cushaw Green Striped Squash, which has a slightly sweet flesh great for pies and good seeds for roasting. Delicata Squash is very sweet and a great addition to soups or for baking. The warty, deep green Marina di Chioggia squash is an Italian variety, so it makes sense to use it in pasta and ravioli. The options for unique squash eating are endless; try Blue Hubbard, Buttercup, Flat White Boer, and Banana Pink Jumbo varieties. I’ve only begun to try out some of these, and I’m excited for my squash eating adventures to continue.
Five favorite squash recipes:
Continue Reading Fall in Love with Squash
We’re continuing our season long Fall Fest 2011, which welcomes food and garden bloggers to feature garden-to-table recipes and tips. We’ll help you to enjoy all that this season has to offer. First up was the classic fall favorite, apples, then potatoes, pumpkin, and now: winter squash.
I’ve never met a squash I didn’t like but I think I might be in love with a certain winter variety: kabocha squash. It’s sweeter than butternut squash (if that’s possible) and it doesn’t have a stringy texture that some squash varieties are prone to. So when I found Mark Bittman‘s super-simple Pasta with Winter Squash recipe, I knew the kabocha variety would be the perfect choice.
Continue Reading Fall Fest: Kabocha Squash Pasta
Braise today, grill tomorrow -- cook the last of your favorite winter foods.
Oh, winter, with your gray days, cold temps and snow drifts. I may wax poetic for picture-perfect snow storms when the oppressive August heat arrives, but right now I’m so ready to move on to warmer and greener things. My pantry, however, is still stuck in depths-of-winter mode. Is yours still prepped for the next ice storm? This week, bring it into the light by using up the last of all those winter remnants.
Continue Reading Spring Clean Your Pantry
David Rocco's Pumpkin Soup
We’re teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.
At long last, it’s squash and pumpkin season. There’s so much to love about winter squashes in their many forms — butternut, acorn, buttercup, spaghetti, delicata, hubbard, kabocha, sweet dumping, Cinderella pumpkins, sugar pie pumpkins. Yes, they all look lovely in a basket on your porch, or carved up with scary faces and all of that, but they deserve better — you deserve better — here are some great ways to take advantage of these beautiful-to-gaze-at but even better-to-eat vegetables.
Pictured above, Pumpkin Soup from David Rocco, host of Rocco’s Dolce Vita.
Continue Reading Fall Fest: Pumpkins and Squash