Pumpkins prevail as Halloween approaches, but an array of other fall squash are arriving at the Orinda Farmers’ Market. Compared to summer squash, these reach full maturity on the vine to develop a hard, thick shell.
Traditionally fall and winter squash were stored and eaten during the winter months. The hard skin protects the flesh and in turn, allows for longer storage. When placed in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area, they keep for two to three months.
The sweet, creamy, nutty flavor and somewhat dry flesh of buttercup squash makes it the perfect candidate for pies, cakes and breads. They are squatty and round with a dark green skin and orange flesh, compared to the pear-shaped, tan-colored butternut squash with its deep-orange colored flesh.
Butternut squash are a favorite with sweet, creamy, nut-flavored flesh. For easier peeling, use a fork or paring knife to poke holes all over the skin. Microwave for one minute, remove and trim off the top and bottom. Then peel with a good quality peeler or sharp paring knife. Once peeled, stand on end to slice in half and remove seeds. Cut into cubes to bake, steam or sauté.
Appropriately named, acorn squash look like large acorns with deeply ribbed sides. Green or golden in color, these can simply be cut in half, from top to bottom. Remove the seeds and bake with a little brown sugar and butter at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Other small, sweet varieties to look for include Kabocha and Delicata.
Spaghetti squash is just what it sounds like. Once cooked, the flesh is easily removed with a fork and used as a substitute for spaghetti.
One of the newest members to join the market, The Italian Corner, offers some of the freshest pasta available. The husband and wife team of Oscar Delgado and Nicole Bordoli bring pasta, sauces, raviolis, lasagna and traditional Italian desserts from their kitchen in Petaluma. They also offer a selection of gluten-free items.
One of my favorite sauces for fresh pasta combines tomato, onion and roasted butternut squash. It’s creamy and delicious and perfect with some of The Italian Corner’s pasta.
Tomato and Butternut Squash Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 cups cubed butternut squash (about half, prepared as above)
3 tomatoes, cut in chunks
½ large onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic skin removed, cut in half
½ teaspoon salt
A pinch of dried chili pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound package of The Italian Corner fresh pasta
Grated parmesan cheese for serving
Mix olive oil with the squash, tomato, onion, garlic and salt in a single layer on a parchment lined baking tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown. Place cooled vegetables, chili flakes, oregano and pepper in a blender or food processor. (Do NOT add hot vegetables to a sealed blender as heat will cause pressure to build and explode). Blend to desired consistency, adding a little water or stock if necessary. Cook pasta according to directions. Pour sauce over pasta and mix carefully and thoroughly. Serve with parmesan cheese.
The Orinda Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. Visit www.cccfm.org, facebook.com/orindaFarmersMarket and Instagram at OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline at 925.322.6228.
Barbara Kobsar can be reached at email@example.com.