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Winter squash celebration Saturday

Cushaw pie
Cushaw pie is a favorite of farmers market customers and is one of the many samples and recipes offered this weekend. Submitted photo.

By Jana Jones
Farmers Market Manager

Have you ever heard of spaghetti squash? How about acorn squash? Or cushaw? Most of us are familiar with butternut squash. There are several wonderful varieties of winter squash that so many of us have never tried because they are not commonly offered in the grocery store. If that is the case for you, let me tell you what you are missing out on!

Other than being incredibly beautiful, winter squash is packed full of cancer fighting nutrients including beta-carotene and carotenoids as well as a great source of vitamin A, C, potassium and dietary fiber. Their thick skin gives them the ability to be stored in a cool, dark place through the winter. The most common way to cook winter squash is to cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and bake, roast or steam them until the flesh is soft. You can enhance their sweetness with brown sugar or all-natural maple syrup, or highlight their savory taste by rubbing the flesh with cut garlic, brushing with olive oil and adding seasonings like rosemary, sage or thyme. Once cooked, they are great in recipes such as stuffed squash or added to stews or pureed into soups! Each variety has its own special qualities.

This Saturday, September 22 at the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) you will have the opportunity to sample several varieties and diverse recipes of winter squash. We have three vendors offering samplings and recipes: Greiber Family Farm, Brown’s Farm, and A Bushel and a Peck Farm. Come and sample soups, pies, and a variety of healthy, delicious side dishes. Leah Ransom will also be at the Farm Fresh table offering samples of several varieties of winter squash.

I will leave you with one of my favorite winter squash recipes. You can use butternut squash, acorn or any of the orange flesh winter squash for this recipe.

Honey Roasted Winter Squash with Cranberries and Feta Cheese

•1 large butternut squash, peeled + chopped (or equal amount of another winter squash)
•a hearty drizzle of olive oil (approx 1-2 TBSP)
•salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
•2 cups fresh cranberries
•2-3 TBSP honey (or extra, to taste)
•1/4 cup finely crumbled feta
•ground cinnamon, to taste
•fresh or dried parsley, to garnish, optional

1.Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.Lightly drizzle or spritz a baking sheet with olive oil.

3.Add cubed squash to the sheet along with another drizzle of olive oil.

4.Sprinkle with a light layer of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, based on taste preference.

5.Roast at 400 F for 25 minutes on the center rack.