Cart Smarts: Make seasonal presentation of squash

I was invited to speak at a local church event this week and the title was "Ask the Dietitian: Second Edition," since I visited the group and provided a similar presentation last year, too. I planned a few frequently-asked questions around the topic of seasonal foods, then left the remainder of the presentation open so that we could get more involvement from the audience.

When it comes to seasonal foods, our produce department tells the story. Apples, pumpkins, pears and winter squash are filling our shelves and your grocery cart.

I played a fun game of "name that squash" with the group and the audience did surprisingly well, until I came to the last variety. It was an oval-shaped squash, ranging in size from a potato to that of a cucumber, and yellow in color with green striations in the skin. When I held it up, the audience was quiet. One lady said she knew it started with a "D" but couldn't remember the name. "Delicata," I answered.

These squash are grown at Bronk Farms in Winona, so it's nice to know you are supporting a local farmer when you buy it for your family.

This is the first time I have actually seen this variety in the store, so I don't have any personal experience in cooking it (yet!). From a little research, I can tell you that it's a mild squash with thinner skin, so peeling isn't required. Like other squash, it is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for immunity this time of year.


This week's recipe includes squash in a soup. When I made this at home, the boys were napping and my husband was out running errands. We had friends coming over for dinner, so I thought it would be a good idea to double the recipe and fill my freezer with the extra soup.

As I worked my way through the ingredients, I started to panic because my pot was filling quickly and I hadn't added greens or pasta. So I transferred the soup to the slow cooker, because I thought that seemed bigger — no such luck. That's when my husband walked in the door. He shook his head and said "I told you so." It drives him crazy that I never follow recipes, always swapping ingredients and adding my own twist to make the dish healthier. I have to say that it works about 95-percent of the time, but this soup fell in the 5-percent column.

I was embarrassed to serve my noodle-less soup to our guests, but I have to say the flavor was still incredible and our guests weren't disappointed. And no, I didn't learn my lesson about changing recipes. Instead, what I learned, is that I need to buy a bigger pot.


Autumn minestrone

1 cup chopped onion

2 stalks celery, cut into ¼-inch slices

2 cloves garlic, minced


3 tablespoon olive oil

1 (1 pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

5 cups vegetable stock

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano

2 cups coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper


¾ cup ditali or small shell pasta

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

In a large stockpot, cook onion, celery and half of the minced garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in squash and potato. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes, chard, basil and red pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add pasta and beans. Return mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes more or until pasta and vegetables are tender.

Serves 8.

Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Fall 2014.

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