Use roasting and spices to kick flavor into high gear.
Nothing denotes autumn better than the sights and tastes of squash. The colorful gourds are a gourmand’s delight—if you know what you’re doing. Chef Tony Conte shared these tips for choosing and preparing squash with the website Eatocracy.com.
1. With squash and pumpkin, lighter is not always better. “I like them to be very heavy and feel dense, not hollow—and it should be firm.”
2. “Add some ground chili (Thai, chipotle, ancho, or your favorite smoky and hot pepper) to bring out another layer of flavor from these sweet root vegetables.”
3. There’s a reason that many recipes call for roasting squash. “The heat brings out the natural sugars, makes the color more intense, and makes the flesh much easier to work with or to make into a puree.”
4. Don’t forget the seeds! Toss them with olive oil and salt and broil on a baking sheet.
5. A surprising use for seeds: “Cook [them] in a skillet with some water until they are soft, grind them down, and add as a natural starch before straining when making a soup.”
6. Use butternut or acorn squash puree to fill ravioli.
7. Or take advantage of the natural sweetness of roasted, pureed squash: “Make a cheesecake, pie, or even ice cream.”
“Chef Tony Conte’s Five Tips on Cooking Fall Squash,” www.eatocracy.cnn.com, 10/27/10