Squash is one of the most bang-for-your buck vegetables out there. But that’s not the only reason I love it. Squash is healthy, delicious, and can be prepared in a million different ways.
I didn’t think squash could get much better, until I picked up a copy of Minneapolis-based blogger Amanda Paa’s new cookbook, Smitten With Squash. I’ve met Amanda a few times (such a sweet girl!) and her book inspired me to experiment beyond my current squash repertoire. I started with brown butter delicata donuts with simple vanilla glaze (wow!) and can’t wait to try others. This girl knows squash, and her passion for this vegetable is contagious.
I am pleased that Amanda is sharing a few words of wisdom with us today. Please consider picking up a copy of her book – it’s full of tips and really creative recipes for using all types of squash. I think you’ll like it as much as I do!
Interview With Amanda Paa, Author of Smitten With Squash
1: Hi Amanda, Congratulations on the release of your cookbook! Tell us a little bit about it.
Thanks so much Haley! I’m so excited about sharing Smitten with Squash now that the winter varieties are showing up at the market. The book includes over 80 original recipes for both summer and winter squash, as well as tips and tricks for working with easier, master techniques for preparation, identification help and also thoughts on the growing/harvesting. My love for all kinds of squash blossomed once I saw its potential beyond the roasted acorn squash with butter and brown sugar that I grew up on. I wanted to share my passion for everything squash with the masses, sweet to savory, across cuisines and techniques for cooking with it. I spent time researching the history and growing of squash to help home gardeners as well. With winter squash, I break down 7 different varieties into their identification, the Inside Scoop (my thoughts on the best way to prepare it and tips and tricks), and One Easy Dish. Then, each variety has an additional 5-8 recipes that accompany it.
2: Tell us why squash should be a staple in the budget cook’s kitchen.
Squash is definitely budget friendly, not only from the standpoint of what it costs to buy it, but also because some varieties have so much flesh that can be used for multiple meals. Kabocha, blue hubbard and butternut are great examples of this. The roasted or steamed flesh also freezes well, making preservation quite easy. Additionally, you can use nearly the whole vegetable for cooking. The flesh for whatever application you’d like, the seeds can be roasted for a snack, and the skin can be tossed into a vegetable stock that with other scraps, adding a lovely nuttiness.
3: Do you have any tips for getting a squash-based meal on the table in a short amount of time?
To make the preparation of squash quicker, you can cube it and boil it, which which will take about 20 minutes for one-inch cubes, or you can put a halved squash in a microwave-safe pan cut side down, add an inch of water, then cover it with plastic wrap. Microwave for about 5 minutes or until tender. I highly recommend roasting though, as it imparts much more flavor than these methods. One of the quickest roasting squashes is delicata, which only takes about 15 minutes.
4: Do you have any words of inspiration for us?
One of the things that I’m passionate about is inspiring others to move beyond butternut and acorn, because they are so many other delicious varieties that farmers are growing! Most of the time people see a kabocha, delicata or blue hubbard, they’re a little unsure of what they taste like or how to prepare them, so they pass them by. Challenge yourself this year by picking one up that you’ve never cooked with and experiment! My book is a good guide I also think squash is the new pumpkin in terms of seasonal baking. Less water content and starchier flesh makes the puree a wonder to work with so you may want to give that a whirl soon too.
Delicata Squash Fries Recipe
Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 50 min
I experimented with my own squash recipe: crisp, oven-roasted delicata fries. This recipe goes beyond roasting. I baked them until they were crispy. It's not necessary to peel delicata squash, which makes this recipe super easy to make! These taste a bit like sweet potato fries.
1 delicata squash (no need to peel this kind of squash!)
1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon shallot salt (I bought mine at Penzey's Spices)
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the ends off of squash. Cut the squash in half. Cut each half in half so you have two U-shaped halves. Ultimately, you want 1/2-inch half-moon slices of squash, just like you see in the photo of the finished dish, above.
Place squash in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Add spices and toss to evenly coat.
Place squash on a large oiled baking sheet. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, turning once, until squash slices are crisp. Serve hot with dipping sauce (I made a simple Sriracha mayonnaise).