It takes effort to ward off the melancholy that arrives when the daylight hours get shorter. So I focus on the things I enjoy about fall: Parent’s weekend at college, the changing foliage colors and a whole new selection of vegetables at the farmer’s markets.
Take winter squash, for example. From the familiar acorn and butternut to relative newcomers such as kabocha and delicata, winter squash are the cucurbits that sport tough skins and seeds. Their dense, sweet flesh takes well to moist-heat cooking as well as high-heat roasting. Simple seasonings such as olive oil, spices and garlic enhance their quintessential fall flavor.
Spaghetti squash gets top billing during the work week because it cooks relatively quickly in the microwave oven and reheats beautifully. My favorite way to serve this delicately flavored squash requires a little roasted garlic, richly flavored olive oil and fresh herbs. Alternatively, a simple white wine vinaigrette drizzled over cooled strands of the squash and then tossed with diced grilled shrimp and fresh chives makes a fabulous salad.
Hearty, richly flavored, oven-roasted squash, such as butternut, turban and small sugar pumpkins, becomes company fare with the addition of toasted walnuts and dried plums. The dish makes a great accompaniment to grilled pork tenderloin and game birds. Nearly all winter squash make stunning hearty and cream soups—with nary a drop of cream needed. Small carnival and kabocha squash, steamed until tender, look charming when stuffed with a mixture of quinoa and dried fruit. And until you feel like cooking, arrange colorful squash into a dramatic fall centerpiece sure to make you smile.