Squash and Eggplant Information and Tips
Butternut Squash-A type of winter squash that has a sweet nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has yellow skin and an orange fleshy pulp. It is a fruit that can be roasted, toasted, pureed for soup, or mashed and used in casseroles, breads, and muffins. It is often prepared as a soup or grilled whole. Grilled butternut is typically seasoned with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. To do this, cut the squash in half lengthwise, lightly brush with cooking oil, and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until softened.
Summer squash are fleshy vegetables protected by a hard rind. They belong to the plant family that includes melons and cucumbers. To gain the full nutritional benefits from this vegetable, the skins or rinds must be eaten. There are several types of summer squash but zucchini is the most popular. Place summer squash in plastic bags and store in the refrigerator. Fresh summer squash should keep for up to a week.
Patty Pan squash is also a type of summer squash with a distinctive disc-like shape. It is generally no larger than the width of a palm in diameter, with a bright, even color. This squash may be green, white, or yellow. Young squash have rinds which are so tender that they can be eaten along with the rest of the squash, while older squash generally need to be peeled for use.
The classic yellow squash has a bulbous shape with yellow skin. When the squash is cut open, it reveals pale yellow flesh and seeds. The entire squash, including seeds and skin, is edible, and has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor. It is a good choice for summer grilling, gratins, and similar dishes. It can also be eaten raw, and can lend a nice texture to salads when grated.
Globe Eggplant-This is a spongy, mild-tasting vegetable that’s meaty yet low in calories. It’s never eaten raw, but it can be baked, grilled, or sautéed. The best eggplants are firm and shiny eggplants with unbroken skin. Male eggplants tend to have fewer seeds, and are therefore less bitter than female eggplants. To sex an eggplant, look at the indentation at bottom. If it’s deep and shaped like a dash, it’s a female. If it’s shallow and round, it’s a male. Freshness is important, so don’t store them for very long.
Japanese Eggplant-Japanese eggplants tend to be long and slender with an oblong shape. Its glossy skin has a purple-black hue and is thin enough that it does not require peeling prior to use. Japanese eggplants are known to maintain their skin color even when cooked, a quality which makes them unique among many other eggplant varieties which tend to lose some of the vibrancy of their hue when cooked. Their interior cream colored flesh is spongy and nearly seedless. Japanese eggplant’s flavor is mild and because it is nearly seedless it doesn’t possess that bitter quality found in many Western and Thai varieties. Eggplant is quite perishable and will not store long. We recommend using it as soon as possible.
Spaghetti Squash- The fruit can range either from ivory to yellow or orange in color. The orange varieties have a higher carotene content. Its center contains many large seeds. Its flesh is bright yellow or orange. When raw, the flesh is solid and similar to other raw squash; when cooked, the flesh falls away from the fruit in ribbons or strands like spaghetti. It can be baked, boiled, steamed, and/or microwaved. It can be served with or without sauce, as a substitute for pasta. The seeds can be roasted, similar to pumpkin seeds.
Stripetti Spaghetti Squash-A large oval shaped green and tan colored squash. It is a cross between the Delicata and the Spaghetti squash. A thick outer skin, which is very similar to the Delicata, covers a golden stringy-textured inner flesh, like that of the Spaghetti squash. When cooked, it provides a flavor similar to sweet potatoes. If the squash is to be baked, cut the squash in half, cutting down the length of the oblong shape. Place the squash with the skin side down in a dish with 1/2 inch of water. Cover the dish and bake for 1/2 to 3/4 hour at 375 degrees. In a microwave, cook for approximately 20 minutes in a dish with a loose cover of plastic wrap.
Sugar Pie Pumpkin-The Sugar Pie pumpkin is the known for having exceptional flavor and texture. A petite variety the Sugar Pie pumpkin grows to be six to eight inches in diameter. One of the sweetest varieties it is has smooth, orange skin and slight ridges. Its bright orange flesh is known not only for its flavor but for its firm flesh that cooks down to a smooth consistency. Sugar Pie pumpkins are most commonly used for baking. Use to make pies, cheesecake, pancakes and flan. Hollow out, stuff and bake as you would an acorn squash. Cubed and roasted it makes an excellent side dish. Slice into wedges and grill.