In Season/On Special: Winter Squash

Those of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time probably realize we’re big proponents of our many wonderful local farmers’ markets, CSAs, and of course growing your own.  Why, to read our blog sometimes, one would get the impression we’re nothing but a couple of wino locavore fusspots who have no idea what a barcode is for because

GHWB , circa 1992, expressing amazement at grocery store technology. We actually do know what barcodes are for!

we’ve never set foot inside a Safeway.  We realize how annoying this is, plus it’s really not true (well the wino part is probably true, but we’re honestly not that fussy).

Like everyone else in America, we do most of our grocery shopping at whatever supermarket is most convenient for us.  For me, that usually means either the Harris Teeter at Jenkins Row or the one on 1st Street, NE – depending on what side of the Hill I happen to be on at the time.  I pay attention to what’s in season, of course, but also what’s on special.  From time to time I’ll be posting about something that’s in season/on special at one of our Capitol Hill grocery stores; including the price, a recipe and – of course – a wine pairing suggestion!

Winter squash is on sale this week at both Harris Teeters for $.99/lb – so go pick up a few!  Even though it’s a million degree steambath out there, you can at least *pretend* it’s fall by cranking up the A/C while displaying a big pile of acorn and butternut

Go Ahead - for 99 cents/pound you can't go wrong!

squashes in a bowl on your dining room table.  When you get tired of looking at them, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the squashes in half  lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (you can reserve the seeds for roasting later).  Lay them facedown on an oiled jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with a lip), and roast for approximately 20 minutes or until soft.  Let them cool then scoop out the insides and roughly mash.  You now have the basic makings for a healthy and delicious winter squash mash!  Here are a few ideas – savory, sweet and in between:

* Swirl a few spoons of pesto into the squash and heat.  Try topping with a few extra toasted pine nuts for crunch, if you have any.

* Add a little butter and milk to the squash while heating on the stovetop.  Just enough to make it creamy.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg.

* Make a quick winter squash soup by thinning the puree with broth and heat.  Add enough cream or whole milk to lighten it up a few shades; season with salt and pepper.

* The squash puree makes a nice dessert, swirled into plain Greek yogurt and sweetened slightly with maple syrup or honey.  Season with pumpkin pie spice, if you have it, or else just cinnamon and nutmeg.

As for a wine pairing suggestion, I’d pay attention to whatever you decide to serve the squash with.  On its own (as in the soup for example), I’d reach for a full bodied white wine.  One to try would be First Vine’s  Meridiana Wine Estate Isis 2008 (on sale for $16).    The wine is crisp and loaded with ripe fruit flavors, peach, apricot, and tropical fruits too. It’s not aged in oak, allowing all the flavors to come through unimpeded. Light enough to drink as an aperitif, it’s also substantial enough to drink with any of your usual white wine pairings.

See you in the produce aisle!


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