Archives for the day Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Squash; Winter/summer squash and Parmesan butternut squash spaghetti

 Have you ever wondered what makes squash “Winter squash” and “Summer squash”? or the difference between the two?

 Recently,I came across an news paper article about squash,and it talked about why “Winter squash” are sold during summer despite the name “WINTER squash”.

 I thought it very interesting and, thought I would share it with you.

 Before writing about “Winter squash” vs “Summer squash”, I like to write about vegetables and fruits.

Is Squash fruits or vegetable?

 I knew that tomatoes are actually fruits,and Tamatillo (green tomato with husk on top) are actually gooseberry family.

 However, did you know that squash is also not vegetable but fruits? That bring us to the question “What makes fruit “a fruit”,and what makes vegetable “a vegetable”.

What makes fruit “a fruit”,and what makes vegetable “a vegetable”?

 According to science bob website,if the produce in the question has seed, such as tomato,squash, Tomatillo,cucumber,green beans,walnuts etc.., botanically, produce in question is fruit.

 If produce in question has no seed; carrots (root),celery (stem), lettuce (leaves),broccoli (flowers) etc.., then, botanically, they are vegetables.

 To visit science bob website to read what makes vegetable a vegetable, please click here.

 Now you know many of the vegetables are botanically incorrectly labeled as vegetables.

Why “winter squash” are called “winter squash” when they grow in summer?

 According to the news article written by Debbie Arrington, winter squash are called “Winter squash” because they keep for weeks,months without refrigeration.

 In addition, according to what’s cooking america website, “Winter squash” is mostly vine type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. Then, they develop very thick, inedible,hard rinds and tough seeds.

 “Winter squash” takes longer to be fully mature than “Summer squash”,which normally be mature about 3 months or more. If you have found softer rind squash, it indicate the vegetable is immature.

 More on Winter squash at what’s cooking america website here.

 Debbie writes that Americans are eating winter squash about 4.2 pounds per person per year,and they eat one pound of canned/processed squash (such as pumpkin) per year.

 If you have read the previous entry titled “People food for thought Part XVIII; Artificial sweeteners“, you will be remembering that American consumes 165 pounds of added sugar per year.That is roughly 4 times more of winter squash Americans consume per year.

 She also writes that  winter squash retain sugar longer if it were kept at room temperature (50F-59F).

 When winter squash is chilled, the sugar in the squash turns to starch and degrade and goes bad faster.

What makes “Summer squash” a summer squash?

 According to the article written by Barbara Rolek at website, summer squash are categorized into 4 groups; crockneck,zucchini,straight neck,and scallop. Then, they have soft,edible skin and soft seeds.

 “Summer squash” are high in Vitamin A , vitamin C ,and niacin (Vitamin B3).

 More on summer squash article written by Barbara Rolek at, please click here.

What makes winter squash special vegetable?

1. Winter squash like butternut squash, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), etc are high in Beta carotene (Vitamin A).

 When you look around in the grocery stores and some of the vegetables or fruits are yellow/orange colored such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash,pumpkin,papaya,cantaloupe, etc.. and some of the vegetables are dark leafy green such as kale, spinach etc and those yellow/orange colored vegetables/fruits and dark green leafy vegetables are high in Beta carotene (Vitamin A) and, good for vision/immune system etc..

 More on Beta carotene at Vitamin Basic website here.

2. Also, vitamin A rich vegetables are high in fiber and packed with other nutrient. Debbie writes that the darker the orange color in the squash is, the more beta carotene in the vegetables.

 She also writes that if you eat half cup of mashed butternut squash, you will be getting 3 times more of daily amount of Vitamin A recommended.

3. Squash, Carrots etc are good source for cancer fighting “phytonutrients”.

 To read the full article written by Debbie Arrington, please click here.

 More on “Winter squash” article written by Skip Richter at texasgardener website here.

 Squash may not be a popular vegetable on the family dinner plate, but now you know how much they are good for your health benefit, and not just Thanksgiving seasons, you will have more reasons to cook with squash for your family.

 Lastly, I will leave this entry with Butter nut squash recipe “Parmesan Butternut squash spaghetti” for you to try.

 Parmesan Butternut squash spaghetti..

0.Pour water into big pan and put the lid on and set it on medium high heat and start preparing for pasta to be cooked in.

1. Set the skillet with medium high heat, add 1/2 tbs of butter,1/2 tbs EVOO (Extra virgin Olive Oil) and add chopped butternut squash (about 7 oz -8 oz), season it with Molton’s Nature’s Seasons with blue.

2. When butternut squash got fork tender, and browned a little, put those onto small bowl and set aside.

What is fork tender?

“Fork tender” means, vegetables in questions are tender enough for you to pierce with fork.

I usually use butter knife to see if vegetables in question is tender enough to pierce through.

3. Add 1/2 tbs butter and 1/2 EVOO  and add 1/8 red onion sliced, 1/8 White onion sliced,1/8 red pepper sliced, and 1/8 green pepper sliced and season it with Molton’s Natures Seasons with blue cap and stir.

4.Cook until onion is translucent.When onion is cooked through, take it off from heat and set it aside.

5. When water in the pan for spaghetti became rapid boil, add pinch of kosher salt and add 7 oz dry spaghetti*, and cook till al dente

** I usually weigh dry spaghetti about 3 oz to 3.5 oz per serving. 

What is al dente mean?

“Al dente” literally means “To the teeth”,but the word describes rice (for risotto) or pasta were cooked to be a bit firm (has slight resistance) but not hard.

6. Drain pasta,reserving pasta water about 1/4C in measuring cup. Then,put the pasta back in to the big pan and add onion and pepper mixture and add about 1/4 C of reserved pasta water,splash of EVOO, fresh lemon juice squeezed from 1/8 lemon wedge, and grate lemon wedge skin for lemon peel to add more lemon flavor and stir.

** Don’t grate white part of the lemon.Just outside skin. White part of lemon is bitter.

7. Add about 1/2C of grated Parmesan cheese and mix well. Taste it and adjust the seasoning/amount of Parmesan cheese in the dish.

8. Put pasta and onion/pepper mixture on the plate, put some butternut squash pieces on top and serve it with sliced lemon wedge so they can squeeze more lemon over the dish.

** You can also add/make with shrimp.

9. If you had Italian Parsley in your fridge, you can chop them and sprinkle around the plate to dress your plate up.



Sep 08, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized