Checking out the funky shapes and colors of squash, gourds and pumpkins are part of what makes fall farmers' markets fun. Kids are naturally attracted to the quirky forms, and you can use this to introduce different winter squash varieties to the table. There is the turban squash, an often-striped orb with double-decker roundness. Hubbard squash's knobby, bluish-green skin looks a bit like a moonscape and contrasts brilliantly against its orange flesh. The green and orange speckled skin of carnival squash resembles a party favor more than a tasty fall treat. Find out which one your kids think is the weirdest, and then bring it home for dinner.
What to do once you get there? Winter squash has a slightly sweet taste that has a similar texture to a potato. Perhaps the simplest preparation is one kids will gobble up: roasted squash with butter and brown sugar. Cut whatever squash you choose in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast it in a 350 oven for about an hour (until it softens), then mash with butter and brown sugar for instant tastiness. The smooth beige skin of a spaghetti squash may seem dull on the outside, but its noodle-like strands of flesh make it one of the more interesting squash to cook. Below is a recipe to make it a favorite at your house.
Many outdoor farmers' markets are wrapping up towards the end of October, but that doesn't mean your family needs to forgo local winter squash. Pick up a few extra squash each time you visit the market this month to store. Most varieties do well, unwashed, in a cool, dry place for three months. A basement larder will help your family remain locavores, even when snowflakes start falling.
Spaghetti Squash in Soy Ginger Sauce
1 spaghetti squash, washed
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoons maple syrup
pinch of ground ginger
2 scallions, finely sliced
Preheat the oven to 400. Pierce the squash skin in several places and put in a baking pan. Bake uncovered for about 1-1/2 hours, turning once during cooking. The squash is ready when the shell gives to pressure. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly, split in half, and remove the seeds. Put the soy sauce, apple juice, maple syrup, ginger and scallions in a bowl and mix them together. Gently fork out the squash flesh to form strands that resemble spaghetti. Place these in a serving bowl and pour over the sauce. Makes 6-8 servings.
From The Big Book of Recipes for Babies, Toddlers & Children by Bridget L. Wardly and Judy More