Organic Red Kuri Squash: You Can Even Eat the Skin!
I love winter squash season. I get excited when I see all of those kooky-shaped gourds in varying colors of green, yellow, and flame-bright orange. My favorite of all of the squash varieties is the red kuri, and I was very happy to see it at my neighborhood supermarket this week with a big organic label on it. Now I can even eat the skin!
I was surprised to learn that winter squash is on the Organic Consumers Association’s list of produce with the highest pesticide levels [http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/pesticide-residues.cfm]. Most of the time it doesn’t matter because you wouldn’t want to eat squash skin anyway, but with red kuri, it’s great to have the option because the skin is such a dramatic color. Cooking it with the skin gives you a stunningly bright orange dish that’s worthy of any holiday table.
Being able to eat the skin gives you more cooking options, too. Usually, most of us roast squash in the oven and then scoop out the flesh. With organic squash, you can cook it any way you would cook a potato. To prepare the squash, simply slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, and then cut it up into chunks. Now you’re ready to sauté, steam, braise, roast, or boil.
What I like about red kuri is the rich, buttery flesh, and savory flavor. There are lots of ways to prepare it, but my go-to method is to braise red kuri with salt, olive oil, and garlic. Here’s a basic recipe for cooking red kuri that takes about fifteen minutes. Now that you can find it grown organically, there’s never been a better time to try this gorgeous, full-flavored squash.
Braised Red Kuri Squash
For a richer flavor, cook the squash in vegetable or chicken stock. Once the squash is cooked, you can leave it in chunks, or mash it with a potato masher. To give this dish an Indian flair, add a little ground cinnamon and curry powder in Step 2, when you add the garlic.
- 1 red kuri squash, any size
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
1. Scrub the squash well to remove any dirt. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the halves into 1-inch slices, and then cut the slices into chunks that are roughly 2 inches in size.
2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, followed by the squash, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, then add ¼ inch of water to the skillet and bring it to a boil.
3. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the squash is fork tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt.