Mike Parker

Squash. Just let the word roll around on your tongue for a moment. Yeah, it’s not a particularly appealing word; sounds like something you should do to a beetle that infests your rose bushes. But let’s shift our thinking from verb to noun. Ah, yes! Squash! In all its magnificent varieties – summer, pattypan, zucchini, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, delicata, and the list goes on.

One of the “Three Sisters” of native American agriculture, squash is a delicious, amazingly versatile vegetable, grown around the world, that can not only be enjoyed all year long, but also packs a huge nutritional whallop. Squash is a major source of of vitamin A, and provides significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and folate not to mention minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, and iron. And if that’s not enough, this happy vegetable is also good source of carotenoids and other anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.

You might assume from their names that summer squash is only available in the summer, and winter squash is only available in the winter, but you would be mistaken. The terms ‘summer’ and ‘winter,’ when applied to squash, refer to the variety’s durability. Squash varieties which are thin skinned and easy to peel, such as zucchini, pattypan and crookneck, are typically referred to as summer squashes, while those varieties which have tougher skins and heartier flesh, such as acorn, butternut and delicata, usually fall into the winter squash category. Happily, summer squash varieties are available year-round, while many winter squashes can be found from late summer all the way to early spring.

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