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Food

Recipes to Enjoy during Squash and Pumpkin Season

October 19, 2021

Though various types of squash are available year-round, when fall rolls around, orange pumpkins, a type of winter squash, are everywhere. While they are a focal point of decorations for the harvest season, pumpkin is a nutritious addition to any diet. Greek cuisine has several traditional recipes, savory and sweet, that feature the humble squash. While we may think of them as vegetables, they are actually fruits, like the cucumbers and melons in the same family, Cucurbitaceae. There are several varieties to choose from, ranging in color from orange and yellow, to green, red, and white. The popular, very large, decorative orange pumpkin, so strongly associated with the fall season, is sometimes not the tastiest to eat. Butternut and acorn squash are two popular types to try.

Brightly colored squash is rich in nutrients, especially beta carotene that protects the body’s cells from deterioration. The flesh and seeds are packed with vitamins and nutrients, including A, C, E, folic acid, niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid.

Just 100 grams of pumpkin provides 246% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin A which is a powerful antioxidant that, among other things, is essential for good skin and vision. A nutrient dense food, squash is also low in calories and contains magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus.

The sweet pumpkin contains other unique substances with antioxidant properties including cryptoxanthin, zeoxanthin, and lutein which protects the eyes against the effects of aging.

Two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds contain five grams of fat, of which four grams are healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. The seeds are also a concentrated source of protein and contain zinc which has been shown in studies to help the immune system and reduces the duration of the common cold. So always save the seeds and roast them for a healthy snack.

 

Roasted Squash or Pumpkin with Lemon and Olive Oil

 

4 medium acorn squash

Greek extra virgin olive oil

Greek sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 lemon

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the acorn squash, wash thoroughly, and cut in 1/2 inch thick slices. Place the slices in a large roasting pan or on a large, rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper on both sides. Place in the oven and roast until the squash is tender about 20 minutes, turning the slices over once to cook on both sides about halfway through the cooking time. Remove from over and serve warm with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to taste and additional salt and pepper if needed. Makes a great side dish with roasted chicken or other meats. If preferred, serve with cooked rice and some crumbled feta for a vegetarian main course.

 

Boiled Squash or Pumpkin

 

Acorn squash or pumpkin of your choice

1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt

Greek extra virgin olive oil

Lemon

 

Rinse the squash or pumpkin in cool water, cut in half, remove any seeds and reserve for roasting on their own, and then cut into pieces about two inches or so in size. Peeling is optional since it can be done after the squash or pumpkin is cooked and cooled slightly and the outer portion is edible if not too tough. Place the pieces in a large deep pot and fill with water to cover. Bring the pot to a boil over medium high heat, skimming any foam that may rise to the surface. Reduce heat to medium, add the salt, and simmer until the squash or pumpkin is tender, a fork easily going through it. Transfer the cooked squash or pumpkin to a serving bowl and serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon to taste.

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