It may not seem like it, but Winter is prime time for growing vegetables. Sure, the temperatures drop to ungodly numbers well below zero. And yes, the ground is rock solid and probably covered in layers of snow and ice. But the vegetables that can survive these conditions are all the better for it.
Enter: Winter Squash.
This family of vegetables (…technically a fruit on botanical level) is extremely varied in size, shape, colour, and texture, yet they share a simple sweet and nutty flavour that make the winter squash in all its forms a versatile item to have in your kitchen.
Luckily you can find some of these seasonal squashes among a bounty of local fresh produce here at Port City Grocery.
Some of our favourites right now are:
Spaghetti Squash: This gourd gets its namesake from its unique inner texture. Once cooked the flesh pulls apart into lightly sweet spaghetti-like strands that are dense with nutrients and antioxidants. One of the better and easier ways of preparing spaghetti squash is by roasting. With roasting comes extra sweetness and textures you don't get through other cooking methods. To roast your squash...
- preheat your oven to 400 degrees
- cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pulp from the centre
- lightly drizzle the inside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
- place the squash cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and poke holes in the skin before putting it in the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour, depending on the size of your squash and how tender you want it to be
Once you’ve roasted your squash there are tons of different ways you can use it. Treat it like its namesake and toss the squash with a rich tomato sauce and fresh parsley. You could hollow out the squash, toss the tender strands with a shredded mozzarella and freshly minced garlic, put it back into the skin and bake it until the cheese is golden brown on top. If you don't have the time or just don't want to do much work, roast the squash, toss the strands in grass-fed butter, and season it with salt and pepper. It can be as simple or complex as you want.
Sweet Dumpling Squash: It may seem more decorative than edible, but this aptly named squash has a taste similar to the sweet potato or pumpkin puree. Like the delicata squash, its colourful peel is just as edible as its tender and smooth inner flesh, making for easy prep work and less waste. That pretty peel also contains tons of vitamin A and C plus soluble and insoluble fibre. Like all squash the cooking methods are varied. Since this squash is small in size, roasting them takes less time while still getting the same great flavour. If you chunk and roast the squash pieces, you can take advantage of the sweet dumpling’s tenderness and blend them into a creamy soup, topped with crispy pancetta and a drizzle of coconut cream.
Butternut Squash: One of the more popular squash of the winter variety, the butternut squash is just as sweet, versatile, and nutritious as the squash mentioned so far. Its oblong shape carries a low calorie count while still being packed with essential nutrients. A vegetarian chili doesnt need to be just beans and tomatoes, add chunks of butternut squash to add texture and make an already hearty dish even more filling. Check out this link here for our vegetarian chili recipe made with butternut squash and other great produce/products you can find at Port City Grocery!
They may seem complicated but these squash are a simple way to keep vegetables in your diet and continue to have great meals that will keep you satiated and warm during these cold winter months. Check out the links throughout this post to see what items Port City Grocery offers that will help you make the dishes mentioned or something completely original!
Born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario, Thomas Bartlett first
began a culinary career in 2014. Since then he’s moved to Cape breton,
Halifax, and back again, working for multiple high-profile east coast
establishments. He now uses his talents here at Port City Grocery. He
lives in Dominion with his partner and weiner dog, Louie.