Eat This Now | September 30th, 2015

Delicata SquashCauliflowerMcIntosh ApplesSweeTango ApplesSpaghetti SquashKitchen Tip of the Week

Best if used by 10/07/15

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Delicata Squash

Peak Season    Best Flavor

An amazing variety of local hard squashes is in season right now. Here’s a sleeper variety that many home cooks are unaware of – Delicata Squash. Delicata Squash is a wonderful hard squash that tastes like yellow-flesh Sweet Potatoes. Unlike other hard squashes that require lots of peeling, the skin of Delicata is tender enough once cooked to be edible.

The peak season for Delicata does not last as long for this more perishable heirloom variety, making September and October the best time of the year to enjoy. Simply half the squash, remove the pulp and seeds, cut it into bite size pieces, then bake it until you can pierce with a fork. I typically roast Delicata Squash pieces tossed in Olive oil, salt and pepper and a little savory seasoning like garlic powder at 425-450F until fork-tender, maybe 15-20 minutes.

Recipe: Roasted Delicata Squash with Pecans

  1. Preheat Oven to 425F
  2. Halve 1 washed Delicata Squash then remove the seeds and pulp
  3. Cut the Squash into ½” thick pieces
  4. Toss the cut Delicata Squash with:
  5. 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  6. ½ tsp Coarse Salt
  7. ½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  8. Spread evenly on a baking tray then roast at 425F for 10 min
  9. Flip the pieces with a spatula and roast for 5 more minutes
  10. Sprinkle with ½ cup chopped Pecans, roasting for a final 3-5 minutes until the squash is fork tender


Roasted Delicata Squash with Pecans



Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

October is shaping up to be a fantastic time to try out some new Cauliflower recipes. Why? Locally grown White Cauliflower, saw well as antioxidant-rich Orange and Purple varieties, will be in peak season. Plus, supermarkets are likely to have California grown Cauliflower on sale this month.

How can you tell the difference? Regionally-grown Cauliflower from smaller East Coast farms is typically sold without plastic wrapping and has more of the green leaves and stems left attached to the head.

Just a few years ago this cruciferous veggie was not a big deal. But chefs and other culinary influencers are beginning to open Americans’ minds to the delicious possibilities of fresh Cauliflower – mashed like potatoes, grated like rice, or even baked in pizza. If raw Cauliflower is too peppery for you and eating it steamed is to soggy for you – try it roasted! Roasting Cauliflower at 425-450 F brings out its natural sweetness and lessens its moisture content without letting it get dry or rubbery.

Cauliflower Tips

  • Select Cauliflower that looks fresh and has no soft or slimy spots or excessive black spots. But don’t get too worried if you see small brown spot on a few florets here and there – those discolored spots are easy to trim off with a knife when you are cutting up the head.
  • Store Cauliflower in the refrigerator and rinse in water before cutting.
  • Colors? This is a great time of year to find antioxidant-rich Orange, Purple and Green Cauliflower.  They taste virtually the same as regular Cauliflower, but look so vibrant!
  • Cutting:
    1. Slice Cauliflower into planks with the core intact so it holds together when you throw it on the grill.
    2. Trim the short stems off the core to make traditional florets to eat raw or use in recipes.
    3. Cauliflower Couscous: Pulse Cauliflower florets in the food processor until a rice-like consistency, then toss into a raw salad or cook it like rice.

Recipe Ideas

This recipe could be switched to Cauliflower Wings by substituting a Buffalo-style Hot Sauce.

  1. Florets: ½ head washed Cauliflower, cored, slice into ½ inch thick pieces
  2. Toss sliced florets in 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp each salt and cracked black pepper
  3. Spread evenly on baking tray and Roast at 450 F for 10 minutes
  4. Flip Cauliflower pieces with a spatula then roast another 6 minutes
  5. Toss roasted florets in 2-3 tbsp Sriracha Hot Sauce, depending on your heat preference
  6. Roast for a final 3 minutes, then serve

Rooster Roasted Cauliflower

McIntosh Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Classic flavor that is sweet and tangy with a juicy, semi-crisp texture (some might call it soft) – that is what you’ll get with this old fashioned, East Coast favorite: McIntosh Apples. Discovered as a chance seedling by John McIntosh in New York over 100 years ago, this is a variety so ubiquitous as a fall ingredient that one bite can make you recall Mom’s apple cake or Grandma’s applesauce or that warm apple pie you love so much. McIntosh Apples are a round-shaped apple with chewy skin that is dark-red over green.

They’re good for sauces, salads and for baking crisps and pies, even though they don’t hold shape as well as firmer apples like Granny Smith. It’s a local preference thing, I suppose. Speaking of preferences, some folks really enjoy McIntosh Apples for eating out of hand in spite of their semi-crisp texture.

No matter what you like to use McIntosh Apples for – peak season is here in Pennsylvania and New York, so look for fresh crop quality and plenty of “on sale” pricing to take advantage of.

At the store, fruit sold loose tends to be a larger than the McIntosh sold in totes or bags, but the flavor and tangy-sweet aroma when you peel them is the same either way. At the farm market or orchard, select McIntosh that have been picked that day or were stored in refrigeration to make sure you’re getting fruit with good texture.

McIntosh Tips (see for Macintosh tips)

  • McIntosh Apples do bruise fairly easily so handle them gently.
  • For the best texture – keep your McIntosh in the fridge, since several days at room temperature will make them mealy inside even though the still look fresh on the outside.
  • Even though PA & NY McIntosh Apple supplies will be available for the next 9 months thanks to controlled atmosphere storage –the texture will be at its best here in late September and October, just after harvest time.

I love McIntosh Apples in my wife’s homemade apple pie recipe and in apple cake. Here is an apple cake mix that calls for 1.5 cups chopped apples with the skin on. It’s easy and tastes great – so moist!

SweeTango Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor

I have two favorite snacking apples: Honeycrisp Apples in the Fall; Jazz Apples in the Winter. But there are some really exciting apple varieties making their way to the marketplace the last few years and this one has made it on may radar, big-time: SweeTango.

If you like Honeycrisp, you should try SweeTango Apples! This newer premium Apple is a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties. The flavor is very sweet with just a light amount of tanginess, but less acidic bite than Honeycrisp. The bright red over yellow skinned SweeTango has an exceptional, popping-crisp texture. Crunchy and juicy like a Honeycrisp, but not hard like a Pink Lady or Granny Smith. My kids went crazy for SweeTango when they tried their first ones and we plan to eat more this October!

SweeTango is a “managed” variety being grown in a handful of orchards in NY, MI, WI, MN and WA where production is still ramping up to meet the demand for this crisp, sweet up-and-comer Apple. You won’t find it everywhere, but if you do – try it. SweeTango is harvested August and September, and is likely to sell out by the end of November.

This newer premium Apple is a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties. The flavor is very sweet with just a light amount of tanginess, but less acidic bite than Honeycrisp.

Spaghetti Squash

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

So why do they call it Spaghetti Squash? You really have to make it yourself to believe it, but the flesh of Spaghetti Squash comes out like pasta strands when it is cooked. How cool! The flavor is sweet and mild, and the texture is just slightly crunchy (al dente). It doesn’t taste like pasta, but you can use cooked Spaghetti Squash in recipes just as you would for pasta – only this squash will offer more nutritional benefit, fiber and only about 40 calories per cup Spaghetti Squash.

Spaghetti Squash is in peak season in many growing areas of the country like the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Mid-West and more during September, October and November, making it one of the best times of the year to enjoy this unique hard squash at affordable prices and great quality. Organically grown Spaghetti Squash is at its best pricing and availability too! Select Spaghetti Squash that is firm and has a nice yellow skin color. Spaghetti Squash is prone to scarring while it grows, so do not be too concerned about those so long the squash is hard. As with other Hard Squashes, fresh Spaghetti Squash can stay good for up to several weeks at room temperature.

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

This is a comforting and cheesy vegetarian dish without the carb-laden pasta guilt. Try it for a Meatless Monday dinner!
1. Preparing and Cooking the Spaghetti Squash

  1. Pre-heat Oven to 375 F
  2. Slice 1 Spaghetti Squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds and pulp
  3. Spray rimmed baking tray with olive oil cooking spray, place Spaghetti Squash cut-side down
  4. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes or until tender

2. Preparing the Casserole filling

  1. Fold together the following in a large mixing bowl
    • 1 egg beaten
    • 2 cups Ricotta Cheese
    • 1 clove Garlic chopped finely
    • 6 fresh Basil leaves chopped finely
    • 3 cups Baby Spinach
    • Season with ¾ tsp coarse salt and ¼ tsp black pepper
  2. Pull apart the cooked Spaghetti Squash (see step 1) with a fork, gently stir it into the other ingredients
  3. Empty the contents of the bowl into an 8×8 casserole dish, spread evenly
  4. Layer 1 cup of Pasta Sauce evenly on top
  5. Top the casserole with 2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

3. Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Kitchen Tip of the Week

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

These two methods will help you enjoy delicious, low-calorie Spaghetti Squash as a side dish or prepared have it ready to use in a recipe.

Option 1 – Oven

  1. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half lengthwise with a large sturdy knife on a stable cutting surface
  2. Remove the seeds and pulp from the center with a spoon
  3. Bake cut-side down in a rimmed baking tray at 375 F for 45-50 minutes until the squash is tender.
  4. Use a fork to gently pull out the spaghetti-like strands of flesh.  You may need to hold the hot squash in a towel or with tongs.

Option 2 – Microwave

  1. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half lengthwise with a large sturdy knife on a stable cutting surface
  2. Remove the seeds and pulp from the center with a spoon
  3. Microwave each half wrapped in plastic wrap for about 7-8 minutes, and then allow it to cool for a few minutes so you can handle it.
  4. Use a fork to gently pull out the spaghetti-like strands of flesh.  You may need to hold the hot squash in a towel or with tongs.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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