Probably the most popular type of winter squash is butternut squash.
The variety is recognized by its tan skin and bell-shaped physique. Once sliced open, the orange skin is exposed, as well as the small pocket of seeds and membrane toward the base of the squash.
Butternut squash is quite dense. Once cooked, it yields a very smooth texture and sweet flavor, reminiscent of an orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Ideal for pies, pumpkin bread, soups, sides, butternut squash is quite a tasty item to incorporate into your seasonal diets. Due to its deep orange flesh, butternut squash is loaded with the essential antioxidant beta-carotene, enough to supply almost 150% of the daily value of vitamin A in 1 cup serving of cooked squash. Butternut squash is also a very good source of dietary fiber, and supplies Vitamin C, magnesium, manganese and a good amount of potassium.
This week I prepared a delicious roasted butternut squash soup, the Fix of the Week (elsewhere on this page). You can currently find butternut squash at all weekly Santa Barbara Certified farmers’ markets from several local growers. Certified organic is available. Price averages $1.50 per pound.
Collard green is commonly incorporated into Southern style soul-food. It’s most notably simmered at low heat with ham hocks. The leaves are naturally quite hearty so they will take some time to become tender, which is why they are regularly braised.
I often work collard greens into homemade vegetable soups. Collard greens are considered a headless form of cabbage, like that of kale, one of its many close relatives in the Brassica vegetable family.
Very nutritious, collard greens have anti-inflammatory components in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin K. They are also a powerful source of the antioxidant’s beta carotene, as well as vitamins C and E.
Collard greens can be pan-fried and used to top butternut squash soup or incorporated into omelets and breakfast scrambles. You can also steam the collard greens, then stuff them and finish them in the oven. You can currently find certified organic collard greens from several local farmers, including John Givens Farm of Goleta and Roots Farm of Los Olivos. Collard greens can be found at most weekly Santa Barbara certified farmers’ markets.
Price averages $3 per bunch.
Baby bok choy
Another member of the cabbage family, baby bok choy is harvested at its young, petite stage of development. Bok choy consists of connected white stems topped with dark green leaves. The white base delivers a nice crisp texture, while the tops are tender, similar to that of Swiss chard.
I love to sear baby bok choy off in a very hot pan with olive oil and finished with minced garlic and red pepper flakes.
Baby bok choy is also nice in raw preparations such as spring rolls and salads.
Add baby bok choy to soups, curry dishes, and enjoy them grilled.
Bok choy translates from Chinese to mean “white cabbage,” and they thrive from late fall through the winter. You can expect to find freshly harvested baby Bok choy at the weekly Saturday Santa Barbara, Sunday Camino Real, Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang and Thursday Carpinteria farmers’ markets.
Price averages $3 per pound.