Driving through the countryside in Ibiza this time of year you will see fields dotted with different kinds of squash. They grow like proverbial weeds on the island, providing a bounty for autumn and winter cooking and eating. Here are 10 fun facts about squash, plus a recipe.
- Squash is an ancient food crop that originated in the Americas and has been cultivated for over 4000 years.
- Squash, corn and beans were the staple diet of native tribes across the Americas.
- The name “squash” comes from the Narragansett word askutasquash. Narragansett was a dialect spoken by Native Americans in what is now the eastern United States.
- You can eat pretty much every bit of a squash, including leaves, tendrils, shoots, stems, flowers, seeds, and fruit.
- Speaking of which, squash is not a vegetable. Botanically, it is defined as fruit, the ripe ovary of a plant with the seeds inside.
- There are hundreds of varieties of squash, making it one of the most diverse fruits in existence.
- Courgette is a type of summer squash, along with scallop, straightneck and crookneck squashes.
- Winter squash varieties have thicker skin and include butternut, acorn, Hubbard and pumpkin.
- Squash has a high water and fibre content, meaning it is low in calories. But it is rich in vitamins and minerals, and seeds are a good source of healthy fats.
- Carving of pumpkins into Jack o’ Lanterns originated in an Irish tradition of carving turnips (there were no squash in Ireland!) into scary faces to ward off evil spirits on All Hallows’ Eve — which we call Halloween.
Peanut and Butternut Squash Soup
This is based on a traditional recipe from Senegal and is deliciously nutty and spicy.
- 1 1/2 tsp peanut oil
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 medium white onion chopped onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1-1 1/2 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 100g creamy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 6 fresh cilantro sprigs, to garnish
Peel and cube the butternut squash, chop the onion, peel and mince the garlic.
Sauté the onion, garlic and squash for 10 minutes over a low heat
Add the remaining ingredients,
Simmer 20-30 minutes until squash is tender.
Blend if desired.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with fresh bread.