Cooking Like a Local: Pugliese Style! – All Things Squash

squash1Keeping with tradition and using only fresh local ingredients, this week’s ‘cooking like a local’ makes some great tasty dishes using the humble squash, which in my opinion is under used and under rated.There’s a huge variety to choose from, so feel free to experiment!

Here are some of the many health benefits of eating squash:

  • They contain beta carotene, which our bodies use to make vitamin A. This is important for vision, bone growth and reproduction.
  • Prevent the growth of cancerous cells.
  • Lowers the risk of developing cataracts.
  • Rich source of potassium with can help lower the risk of developing high blood pressure, and decrease blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
  • Baked pumpkin seeds provide a great source protein.

Zucca Gratinata

First up, ‘Zucca Gratinata‘, (Squash Gratin), a simple, delicious and nutritious dish. The hardest part of this dish is tackling the squash; cutting it up into half moons and deseeding. The tough skin requires a very sharp knife and a bit of elbow grease to portion up. Slice the onion, and cherry tomatoes, lay a thin layer in the bottom of a baking tray, add the half moon slices, capers, black olives, parsley, tuscanello cheese (or parmesan if you can’t find this), breadhcrumbs, chilli flakes and garlic if desired.
Squash has a high water content, therefore this dish just requires a few drops of water to help steam and soften it.
Dizzle with olive and another handful of grated cheese and put in a pre-heated oven at 200°C. Cook until the squash is tender and most of the water has evapourated.
This can be eaten as a side dish or as a main meal.

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Zucca Velluttata

Next up, ‘Zucca Velluttata’ a silky smooth squash soup; absolutely delicious! To a large pan add, approximately a centemetre of olive oil, sliced onion, cubed potates, cubed squash and a stock cube. If you like to spice up your dishes as I do, add chilli flakes. Put on the stove and cook over a very low heat. Again the water from the squash, combined with the added oil, will thoroughly cook all the vegetables. Do not stir; use a flat headed wooden spoon to gently lift the onions and potatoes periodically to prevent them from sticking. Once the vegetables are tender, and the liquid is thick and silky, it’s done! Purèe with a hand blender and serve with croutons.

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