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Eat for the season with butternut squash paprikash

Butternut squash paprikash
Bethane M. Evans

Eating foods available during the growing season provides nutrients the body needs. Biology is cyclic and responds to the seasonal changes in unison by design. In the Fall, It is this design that sustains and prepares our systems for winter.

Vibrant colors prominent during the early and Fall harvest are indicative of the broad spectrum of nutrients and flavor enticing the palate. Mineral content is naturally higher in the Fall when these abundant fruits ripen. Among the many choices available, yellow squashes are rich with beta carotene to pump-up our vitamin A intake to enhance vision as we prepare for shorter, darker days ahead.

The fibrous consistency acts as a primary cleanse so the liver and digestive system function optimally to extract the necessary fats and proteins from heavier foods required to provide energy while physically less active. This action, combined with significant B6 & folate content, also contribute to reducing blood pressure and inflammation.

Squashes are large, dense and satisfying as an inexpensive yet versatile whole food this time of year. Raw, steamed, sauteed or baked like “Butternut squash paprikash,” squashes have endless creative preparations so you cannot go wrong.

To prepare, wash squash well in a rinse of vinegar solution to help remove microbes. Cut in half, scoop out seeds and place fruit-side down in a baking dish with 1” of water at 400 degrees F for 40-50 minutes, depending on the relative size chosen.

Remove the squash from the skin and bake directly in the sauce or top with paprikash sauce and grate fresh Parmesan cheese served in the skin like a bowl, seasoning to taste. The creamy, buttery nature of butternut squash is enhanced with a drizzle of flavorful truffle oil or more simply nut oil, such as walnut, for additional omega-3 fatty acids. With so much existing flavor, salt and pepper can overpower the delicate balance this hearty, whole food has to offer.

Whether for a meal or a side dish served with savory herbal accompaniments, experiment with a sweeter side and lace with real maple syrup or just a sprinkling of cinnamon as a treat. Baked squash is the perfect ingredient for breakfast muffins and pancakes for a bright start to your day.

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