Squash is a healthy vegetable and researchers are discovering that it has more benefits than once believed. Winter squash, especially, turns out to be a primary food source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. It also contains supportive carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Squash also is rich in vitamins A and C, and fiber.

Squash is a healthy vegetable and researchers are discovering that it has more benefits than once believed. Winter squash, especially, turns out to be a primary food source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. It also contains supportive carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Squash also is rich in vitamins A and C, and fiber.

The seeds of squash make a great snack food, just like pumpkin seeds. Scoop the pulp and seeds out from inside the squash and separate the seeds. Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Lightly roast them in a 170 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, this prevents the natural healthy oils from being destroyed.

The natural starches in squash have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is recommended by researchers that winter squash be purchased as organic grown.

An easy way to prepare squash is to steam it in 1-inch cubes for about 7 -minutes. This saves the nutrients. I like to cut up zucchini and yellow squash slices, place them in a covered microwave dish, add a little butter, sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan cheese, and microwave for 3 minutes and serve.


Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce

1  medium spaghetti squash, unblemished

1  cup spaghetti sauce

1  tablespoon dried sweet basil

1  tablespoon dried sweet parsley

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds and strings. In a baking dish with 1/2 cup water place squash cut-side down. Cover with plastic wrap and cook in a microwave on high 8-10 minutes. Remove spaghetti-like strands with a fork. Place in a serving bowl. Heat tomato sauce, basil, and parsley, stir into squash. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Butternut Squash

1  medium size butternut squash

1  medium sweet onion, chopped and sauteed

2-3  tablespoons butter

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and membranes. Place in a baking dish cut-side down, add 1/2 cup of water and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and scoop out the flesh; put into a serving bowl. Mash with a fork then add butter and sauteed chopped onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


Butternut Squash Casserole

Serves 6-8

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3  large eggs

1  can evaporated milk

1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3  cups cooked butternut squash, mashed


1/2 cup Rice Krispies or other crisp rice cereal

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

2  tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Stir in squash, making a thin mixture.

Pour this into a 11 x 7- inch baking dish. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until almost set.

In a bowl combine rice cereal, brown sugar, and pecans, mix well. Drizzle melted butter over it and stir in to mix. Sprinkle mixture over baked casserole. Return to oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until bubbly.


Acorn Squash Rings with Brown Sugar

This is a nice presentation dish for a special dinner or for guests. Serves 6-8.

2  medium acorn squash (about 2 pounds)

6  tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup

3  tablespoons butter

1  teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cut squash into 4 rings crosswise for each squash, discard seeds and membranes. Arrange rings in a single layer in a 13 x 10-inch baking dish. Bake, covered with foil, in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

In a saucepan combine brown sugar or maple syrup, butter, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat and still till bubbly, spoon over squash. Bake for another 10 minutes, uncovered, until tender, basting often.


Yellow Squash Soup

2  tablespoons butter

1  large sweet onion, finely chopped

2  cloves garlic, minced then smashed

4  medium yellow squash

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1  cup sour cream

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine (Optional)

1  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish

In a heavy skillet, melt butter , and saute onions and garlic for about 3 minutes. Slice or cut into small pieces unpeeled squash, add this and the chicken broth and wine to the skillet. Cook until squash is tender about 6-7 minutes. Put mixture into a blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Add sour cream and season with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste, blend. Stir well and refrigerate. Serve ice cold with a garnish of parsley.


Stuffed Zucchini

Serves 4. This dish may be made the day before and baked just before serving. Grated yellow or white cheddar cheese may be substituted for the Parmesan cheese for a different flavor.

1 1/2 pounds large size zucchini, ends cut off (about 4-6 zucchini)

1 1/2 cups flavored bread crumbs

3/4  cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1  small sweet onion, finely chopped

1  tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1/2  teaspoon salt

2  large eggs, room temperature, beaten

2  tablespoons butter

Scrub zucchini, set aside. In a pot of 1-inch boiling water add salt, add whole zucchini. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until just tender.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully cut zucchinis in half lengthwise. With tip of a spoon, a grapefruit spoon works very well here, carefully remove squash from shells. Chop squash into small pieces then add bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, onion, parsley, salt and pepper, to taste, then add eggs, stir to mix well. Scoop mixture lightly into shells, top with small pieces of cold butter. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated cheese.

Arrange stuffed shells in a large baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until brown on top.


Zucchini - Walnut Bread

Makes 2 loaves. This bread freezes well and makes nice hostess gifts.

4  large eggs, room temperature

3/4  cup canola oil

1 1/2  cups granulated sugar

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1  teaspoon baking powder

2  cups grated, unpeeled, zucchini

1  cup chopped walnuts

1  cup raisins (Optional)

1  teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl beat together eggs, oil, and sugar. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients alternately with grated zucchini to egg mixture, mixing well. Fold in vanilla extract, then add nuts and raisins. Bake in a 350 degree oven in 2 - 5 x 9-inch loaf pans for 55-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack for 10-15 minutes then remove from pans to cool. Tastes more flavorful the next day.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.