Posts Tagged With: Zucchini

250/365: National Acorn Squash Day

I don’t mean to step on any toes today, but we are going to celebrate a quintessential autumn dish. September 7 is National Acorn Squash Day!

You probably think acorn squash is a vegetable. That’s the kind of thinking that’ll get you tossed off the island, mister! (If you were on an island and you’re a man). Fact is, much like the tomato, it’s technically a fruit dressed up like a vegetable. In other words, an impostor. Squash is indigenous to North and Central America, and was one of the staple food items of Native Americans, along with beans, corn, and strawberry Jell-O. Named for it’s shape – that’d be an acorn, not a corn – acorn squash is related to zucchini, but much smaller in size. It’s typically dark green with a splash of orange, and has distinctive ridges across its surface. The flesh is yellow-orange and sweet. Acorn squash is best baked, and often served stuffed. It can also be sauteed or steamed. Just be sure to remove the fibers and stems before cooking. Unless you happen to like fibers and stems. If that’s the case, go ahead and leave ’em in. It’s your digestive tract. Other names for this fruit include winter squash, žalud squash, agern squash, ng bunga ng oak kalabasa, courge poivrée, eichelkürbis, makk squash, acorn leiðsögn, squash dearcán, squash ghianda, zīle drūzmēties, gilė skvošas, Żołądź squash, abóbora, ghindă squash, calabaza, acorn boga, ekollonsquash, meşe palamudu kabak, and sboncen fesen.

We had never tried acorn squash before, though I buy it almost every year. Like candy corn, it’s a festive way to celebrate fall (and Halloween). I often have decorative gourds on display. We baked it, with a little butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup – the recipe follows – and served it as a side dish with some fried chicken and potato salad. We were both amazed by how delicious it tasted!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.

2 Using a strong chef’s knife, and perhaps a rubber mallet to help, cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don’t burn and the squash doesn’t get dried out.

3 Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Dribble on a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half.

4 Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4, depending on how much squash you like to eat.

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Categories: Fruit, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

220/365: National Zucchini Day*

Squash your plans to eat any other vegetables today: unless they’re long and green, they just don’t measure up. August 8 is National Zucchini Day!

It’s also National Frozen Custard Day, and that presented us with an interesting dilemma: there’s a frozen custard joint in town that churns out delicious, creamy frozen custard. But, with so many desserts on the calendar, whenever the opportunity arises to have something that isn’t sweet, we jump on it. Sure enough, the healthy choice beat out the far more decadent choice, and we decided to honor zucchini (which tend to get far too little respect this time of year anyway, growing to inordinately large sizes and ending up dumped on unsuspecting neighbors’ doorsteps in alarming numbers).

The truth is, like tomatoes and Carmen Miranda’s hat, zucchini are technically a fruit, not a vegetable. I actually failed to mention this fact on National Zucchini Bread Day, but did cover the history of the squash itself, so click on the link if you want to know how/where it originated.

We didn’t want to repeat ourselves and bake zucchini bread again, so we got more creative this time. I like the challenges where we repurpose the main ingredient in unexpected ways, straying from the obvious. We made pork and chicken fajitas for dinner, and added sliced zucchini to our vegetable mix (peppers, onions, and mushrooms). Traditional Mexican? Not at all, but that didn’t matter a bit. It was delicious!

National Zucchini Day

Categories: Vegetables | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

115/365: National Zucchini Bread Day

Squash any thoughts you might have about giving away a garden’s worth of zucchini today. Turn it into a sweet, savory dessert instead: April 25 is National Zucchini Bread Day!

Similar to banana bread, zucchini bread is considered a “quick bread.” These bread types don’t use yeast as a leavening agent and require no fermentation, so the dough can be baked immediately. Quick breads originated in the United States in the 18th century with the discovery of pearlash, a leavening agent that produces carbon dioxide gas in dough. They became a favorite during the Civil War when food was scarce and a loaf of bread could be whipped up quickly to feed the soldiers, hence the name. Zucchini itself is the result of a squash plant, native to America, that was brought back to Italy and mutated. Which is not to say it grew teeth and started eating people ala Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, though that would make for a rather interesting history. Zucchini grow rapidly and can become quite large, exceeding 3′ in length. They are usually picked when they’re smaller, as the flavor is better and gardeners won’t break their backs hauling them into the kitchen that way. Because they are so easy to grow, they have a reputation for overabundance. Stories persist of people waking up to bags full of zucchini on their front porches, left there in the dead of night by gardeners seeking to rid themselves of excess squash. That’s never happened to me, though I did find a steaming bag of something else on the front porch once. Zucchini bread is the result of home cooks trying to come up with something, anything, to do with all that damn zucchini. The first time I heard of it I though, eww, even though I love zucchini. It didn’t sound very appealing in a bread – but it’s actually very good that way.

For today’s challenge, Tara baked up a loaf of zucchini bread ourselves. It turned out delicious!

Zucchini Bread

Categories: Vegetables | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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