Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Five Tips on Cooking Fall Squash: Tony Conte

October 27th, 2010 by Mariah

Five Tips on Cooking Fall Squash: Tony Conte

1. Looks can be deceiving
“When picking out a squash or pumpkin, the picture-perfect, lightweight ones may not be the best bet. I like them to be very heavy and feel dense, not hollow – and it should be firm.

If it’s soft, it’s rotting from the inside out. Blemishes on the flesh can be from how it was grown or they may have been bruised in transit, which doesn’t harm the flavor or mean that it’s overly ripe or unusable – quite the opposite.

When shopping ask at the farmers markets or grocery store for the ‘number twos.’ These veggies (apples too) don’t look perfect but they are excellent for cooking and are going to be peeled anyway. And the number twos are far less expensive.”

2. Make it hot
“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. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we incorporate some sort of chili into our squash/potato dishes. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are sweeter than they’ve ever been and adding that layer of kick – whether for heat or smoke – brings out an amazing flavor.

We typically add dried chili powder or flakes, olive oil, and garlic before roasting in the oven. You can serve alongside a steak or a nice pork loin for a great fall entrée.”

3. Make it sweet
“Almost any recipe for squash or potatoes starts off with roasting the vegetable first. 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 purée. The sweet applications of squash, namely butternut or acorn are limitless. You can use the purée to fill ravioli, make a cheesecake, pie, or even ice cream.

4. Don’t throw anything away
“The seeds inside squash have a variety of uses. Toss them on a baking sheet with olive oil and salt and put in the broiler to make a toasted snack. You can also cook the seeds 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.”

5. Don’t be afraid to experiment
“Squash is a very versatile and forgiving vegetable so have fun! Try juicing the raw squash and reducing the juice to make a vinaigrette dressing. Also try making a dumpling or gnocchi – or take it a step further and try pickling for a unique flavor.”

What’s your squash specialty? Spill the beans in the comments.