The Flavors of Fall
Fall is here and every farmers' market and stand is displaying its harvest of squashes. Americans were introduced to winter squashes by native Indians. Pilgrims and early colonists realized how easy they were to grow and how adaptable they were in many recipes.
Acorn, pumpkin, butternut, and Hubbard squashes have a hard, thick rind. The rind protects the squash and keeps it from spoiling for long periods, but makes the job of peeling it a challenge if you want to remove the rind before you cook the squash.
"Make an initial cut to create a flat, stable surface that makes it easier and safer to cut up the squash," recommends CIA Chef Scott Swartz. "Cut through a butternut squash at the point where the neck meets the rounded body. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any filaments in the center of the squash. Then, set your squash, flat side down, on a work surface and use a chef's knife to cut away the skin."
Pumpkins also make their arrival this time of year. They are like the mascots of autumn. "Dressed" in orange-toned uniforms of varying shapes and sizes, their arrival to stores, farm stands, and front porches inspires the spirit of the season year after year. From pumpkin carving to pie baking, this popular gourd encourages creativity in the kitchen.
Chef Swartz suggests using pumpkins to serve his Butternut Squash Soup. Use smaller pumpkins for individual plated servings, or dress up a party buffet by placing the soup in one big pumpkin for guests to serve themselves.
Prepare the pumpkins by washing them with warm soapy water, rinsing them thoroughly, and patting them dry. Carve out the top to make a lid and remove the seeds from the inside. You can also carve away some of the flesh inside the pumpkin so it can hold more liquid.
The following recipe has been adapted from The Culinary Institute of America's The New Book of Soups (2009, Lebhar Friedman).
Nutrition Analysis per 8-ounce serving without crème
fraîche: 80 calories, 2g protein, 17g carbohydrate, 1g fat, 250mg
sodium, 0mg cholesterol, 3g dietary fiber.