Nutrition fun facts: With their orange and yellow flesh, winter squash serve up high levels of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A. They are also a good source of Vitamin Cm a healthy source of fiber, contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and polysaccharides that help regulate and/or control blood sugar.
Storage tips: Squash store best at an even 50°F in a dark place. This could be a cool and dark shelf, cabinet, or drawer in the kitchen, pantry, or closet. They also store well in a warmer section of the root cellar such as on the top shelf. If storing for winter, keep squash away from ripening fruits like apples or pears, and attempt to keep the squash from touching one another by wrapping them with cloth. Check your squash often and discard any rotting squash immediately. Properly stored squash can last through January or February.
Preparation tips: Winter squash can be baked, boiled or steamed. Make sure the squash is rinsed under running water before it is peeled or cut. The quickest and healthiest way to prepare winter squash is to steam it. If you choose to steam winter squash, make sure it is peeled, the seeds are removed and it is cut into cubes; steaming time takes about seven minutes. If you decide to bake your squash, it doesn’t need to be peeled. Remove the ends and cut the squash in half, lengthwise down the middle. Pierce the meat of the squash a few times and bake in a pan until tender. The seeds and skin can be easily removed after it has been baked.
Don’t forget to save the seeds that you scoop out of your winter squash! Seeds are a healthy and delicious snack food and can prepared the same way as pumpkin seeds. Squash seeds need to separated from the pulp before baking. Lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 160 to 170 degrees, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450F. Halve squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard stem ends. Scoop out seeds and cut squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. Toss squash with black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, in 2 large shallow baking pans. Roast squash, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.
While squash roasts, mince garlic and mash to a paste with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, chile (to taste), cilantro, and remaining 1/4 cup oil until combined. Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.