Origin: North America
Etymology: From the Algonquin Indian words askoot asquash, meaning “to eat green.”
An annual plant with trailing stems, of the Cucurbitaceae family. Unlike summer squash, its skin is hard and inedible.
Weighing 5 to 7 pounds, it is round in shape and grows with a very distinctive protruding ring around the flower end, opposite the stem end. Dark green with narrow gray stripes, the thin outer skin surrounds a rich, sweet-flavored, somewhat nutty tasting orange flesh that is fine-grained, creamy textured and dense in consistency.
Nutritional value per 100 g
Calories: 37; carbohydrates: 8.8 g; fat: 0.23 g; water: 88.72; protein: 8.8 g; fiber: 1.6 g. Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamins A, B and C.
Note that the more orange the squash, the higher its vitamin A content.
Winter squash should be firm and deeply colored with a heavy feel. The skin should be dull, hard and smooth.
The more orange the color, the riper, drier and sweeter the squash.
Winter squash will keep from several weeks to more than six months in a dry cool place. Their flavor becomes stronger over time. The stem should be left on to prevent dehydration. Once cut, wrap the squash and refrigerate. Can be frozen easily if peeled and cooked first.
Cut in half or in wedges depending on the recipe. Remove the seeds and filaments with a spoon.
Buttercup squash can be stuffed, baked or microwaved to be served in soups, casseroles, pumpkin pie or as a side dish.
It can tend to be a bit dry. Baking or steaming can solve this problem; the dry flesh becomes smooth, with a flavor reminiscent of honey, roasted chestnuts and sweet potato.
Even more than baking, steaming softens the flesh and creates a thick purée.
Halve and bake in the oven for an hour. Mash the flesh with butter, brown sugar and nutmeg; place back in the shell; sprinkle with salt and chives; bake 20 minutes longer and serve hot.
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