Hard squashes, aka winter squash and fall squash, are a uniquely American product. Early Native Americans held them in a place of reverence, as one of the Three Sisters, the other “sisters” being corn and beans.
You may be wondering why.
Well, it all comes down to the symbiotic nature these crops shared. Nutritionally, these three crops alone could sustain the community. Agriculturally, these three crops were among the first shared plantings; the corn provided a much needed platform for the bean vines to grow upon and shade the the squash plants, the squash served as a natural barrier for the beans and corn, and the beans put much needed nitrogen back into the soil.
Where the name squash was derived?
The word squash comes from Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which translates to “eaten raw or uncooked”.
Why you should always eat your winter squash seeds
Typically, when preparing winter squash, the seeds are scooped out and unnecessarily discarded, but we have a delicious suggestion that embraces our food waste initiative. Save the seeds and eliminate some food waste by roasting them and using them in salads, sauces, or even own their own as a simple snack.
They make an excellent garnish for your autumnal or winter dishes.
A sprinkling of roasted seeds adds a savory nutty crunch to soups, mixed grains, roasted squash, bar snack mixes, or even with baked sweets. Salt and pepper is a classic seasoning, but sweet seasonings, like cinnamon and sugar work well too. The taste of sweet, savory, and heat collide with a simple mix of sugar, salt, and a dash of cayenne.
Roasting the seeds is simple.
For every 1 cup of seeds, use 1 tablespoon of oil and whatever seasonings you like. You can go simple with nothing but salt, or any number of seasoning blends. Roast at a lower temperature, 275 – 300 degrees F, until brown and crisp. Line your pan with either parchment paper or aluminum foil. Since they have the outer shell, they end up looking a little more rustic than the shelled pumpkin seeds you buy.
Here are some seasoning inspirations, add your spin!
- Mexican Inspired: oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt
- Indian Inspired: cumin, coriander, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, salt
- Cinnamon Sugar: cinnamon, sugar, and salt (crank up the volume with a little cayenne pepper!)
- Buffalo Style: sub the oil for melted butter and add the hot seasoning of your choice, toss and roast the seeds at 300 degrees F until browned and crisp
- Seafood Style: Go classic with Old Bay.
Specialty varieties of winter squash are only available during autumnal months and occasionally into the winter. The good news is, there are many varieties of winter squash available year round. Contact your Marketing Associate about what varieties are available now and adding some to your next order. If you are not a customer, find out how to become one today!
Article submission by Chef Daniel Snowden, the Director of Culinary Development for FreshPoint Central Florida. He has been in the produce industry years almost 20 years and loves getting geeky about food. Follow FreshPoint Central Florida on Facebook and Instagram.
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