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Amazing squash comes in many forms


A basket of spaghetti squash sits on the counter of the Snyder Farms stand on Rt. 313 in Perkasie, a sign that the winter squash season has arrived.

In this crossover time of year, when the summer and fall harvests blend together in abundance at local farm stands, squash takes center stage.

Although handicapped by its unfortunate name, squash is amazingly versatile and comes in more shapes, sizes and colors than any other vegetable.

In September we are still eating zucchini and yellow squashes, which are soft and easy to cook. Interchangeable in recipes, the biological cousins are good sautéed, roasted, grilled, stuffed, steamed, and raw in salads. They also can be used in fritters or baked in muffins or quick breads.

The earliest of the winter squashes have arrived in local farm markets, including the odd spaghetti squash, which gets its name from the pulp, which separates into noodle-like strands.

You can eat almost all of the spaghetti squash (the outer skin isn’t tasty), but it’s the stringy pulp that gets all the attention. Mildly flavored, it is often served as a low-carb alternative to pasta.

Other squashes to be enjoyed now include the always reliable acorn, plus pattypan, celebration, and delicata. Still to come are kabocha, butternut, buttercup, sweet dumpling, kuri and pumpkins, although a few of those already are popping up on local farms.

Squash is impressively good for you. Summer squashes are high in vitamin C and potassium, while winter squashes also have plenty of vitamins A and B. All squashes are a healthful source of dietary fiber.

Here is a recipe from designed to make you forget you are eating vegetables instead of pasta.

Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1½ cups chopped tomatoes

¾ cup crumbled feta cheese

3 tablespoons sliced black olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. Place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.

4. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

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