Make the most of your winter squash!

In most regions of the country, winter time means no sun and no to low yield. However, we Californians are extremely lucky to be gardening in a Mediterranean climate where the growing season is year-round. One of the staple winter crops we’re able to produce is winter squash. Some of the most popular varieties are Acorn, Butternut and Spaghetti. From salads to desserts, here’s a list of some great ways to incorporate this holiday favorite into your recipe repertoire.  

“Slaw-some” butternut slaw

  • Cut butternut in thin julienne slices
  • Add vinegar, mint, scallions
  • Bonus: juice the scaps, boil to thicken, add butter and meyer lemon for a sauce that pairs great with seafood.  

Ham n’ Squash

  • Cut butternut and acorn squash into wedges and roast
  • Wrap in country ham and garnish with crispy fried sage

The sweetness of the squash compliments the salty ham perfectly!

Grill it!

  • Slice butternut squash
  • Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and throw it on the grill.
  • Squash does not burn easily do don’t be afraid of high heat to get good caramelization.
  • Bonus: Blend the grilled squash to make a butternut squash soup.

Use the skins

  • Peel acorn squash with a peeler, and don’t worry about getting into the fruit’s tiny grooves.
  • Take the peels and fry them, no batter needed.
  • Salt the peels and serve as a healthy potato chip alternative or garnish on dishes to add extra flavor and texture.

Squash Carbonara

  • Peel a butternut squash, and cut the neck into half-inch cubes and roast
  • Remove the seeds from the bulb of the fruit, rinse them, season with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast
  • Note: Set aside all the squash’s odds and ends that you did not use. These will be used in the sauce
  • Render down some bacon, and saute the squash scraps that you saved in the same pan
  • Throw in some sage, thyme, shallots and garlic
  • Add chicken stock and simmer until tender
  • Add a touch of cream, then puree in a blender to create a rich, smooth sauce
  • Cook some spicy sausage, and add along with the previously roasted butternut squash and parmesan to rigatoni pasta
  • Top with the squash sauce for a delicious squash carbonara

No-Noodle Pasta

This is a great healthy and gluten-free alternative to normal pasta dishes, using spaghetti squash.

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise and season with butter, brown sugar, chili flakes and salt
  • Place the squash face-down in the oven and roast until tender
  • Once the squash cools, remove the strands of squash with a fork to make them look like strings of spaghetti

Butternut squash Risotto

  • Begin by cooking the risotto rice, adding saffron
  • Saute onion, garlic and butternut squash with cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and a little honey or agave nectar
  • Blend it all together with some water or stock and season with salt and pepper
  • Add the squash puree into the risotto for a creamy and delicious dish!

Pot De Creme Dessert

An easy, delicious and gluten-free dessert!

  • Simply bake a squash of your liking in jars with some cream, milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and curry

 

With such a variety to choose from, there’s no limit to the ways you can use all your garden’s squash, and get creative in the kitchen with this versatile holiday favorite. Don’t forget to use the Giving Garden app to share other recipes, helpful growing tips, and trade or sell extra squash to help prevent food waste.

 

Giving Your Garden (and Your Kitchen) Homegrown Garlic

October marks the time to harvest pumpkins and winter squash, leaving plenty of room in garden beds to get creative. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance and flavorful winter crop to incorporate into your winter garden and spring recipes, garlic is the perfect choice. Garlic is an important staple of almost any dish, and Davis’ Mediterranean climate lends itself perfectly to healthy plants.

There are two main subspecies of garlic: hardnecks and softnecks. Hardnecks are characterized by their stiff stalks, and large, uniform cloves. Hardnecks are praised for their deep, savory flavor and aroma, and are favored by cooks because they peel very easily. Hardneck varietals that do well in the cold, wet winters like those common in Davis and Sacramento are the German Red, Spanish Roja, Musik, Turkish Giant, and Chesnok.

  • German Red
    • Strong, spicy flavor. Successful in mild climate but produces particularly well in cold winters.
  • Spanish Roja
    • Very easy to peel and uniform cloves.
  • Musik
    • Large size, strong hot flavor and disease resistance.
  • Turkish Giant
    • Famous for its “giant” cloves and is also very easy to peel.
  • Chesnok
    • Known for its hardiness and ability to withstand numerous climate conditions.

Softneck varieties differ from hardnecks in that they have a more mild flavor, smaller and less uniform cloves, and a larger shelf life. They are very easy to grow because they can tolerate different climates, and do better than hardnecks in warmer weather. The softneck varieties that do particularly well in northern California are the Nootka Rose, Silver Rose, Chinese Pink and Early Italian Purple.

  • Nootka Rose
    • Stronger flavor than most softnecks, proven reliability in temperate climates.
  • Silver Rose
    • Rose-colored cloves which make it a beautiful garlic to braid.
  • Chinese Pink
    • Matures extra early.
  • Early Italian Purple
    • Large bulb, widely grown in the garlic capital Gilroy.

To plant your garlic, all you need to do is break the bulbs into individual cloves and place them about 1-2 inch deep into loose soil with high amounts of organic matter. Make sure each clove is about 4-6 inches apart. If you are planting in rows, space each row about 12-18 inches apart. After the cloves are planted, be sure to mulch the soil to lock in moisture, prevent weeds and increase nutrient delivery to the plant. Alfalfa hay is a common and affective mulch that can be bought at any feed store. Next, saturate the soil and mulch with water, add another few inches of mulch, and let it be for the winter until the tops begin to emerge in early spring.

Your garlic will be ready to harvest around May or June. You will know when it is almost time to harvest when the leaves closest to the soil begin to turn brown. Wait a few more weeks and then, carefully dig up the bulbs with a spader shovel and enjoy!