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by Shari Darling

For more information on

wine and food, go to

www.sharidarling.com

Food and drink

Winter fruits and vegetables are healthy and so important to consume during

the coldest months of the year.

Personally, I enjoy winter squash all year, even during the summer. My

aboriginal ancestors revered winter squash and considered it one of the

‘Three Sisters’. Beans and corn completed the trio. Without these foods, my

people would have ceased to exist.

While corn and beans made a complete protein, squash provided beta-car-

otene, omega-3s and potassium. This combination was vital, especially when

game meats proved scarce.

European conquerors took the squash back with them across the Atlantic.

Many varieties were created around the Mediterranean Basin. Winter squash

never really caught on in Northern Europe because the climate was too cold;

the growing season, too short. France and Spain did embrace this squash.

It’s readily available and so delicious. It can be used in a plethora of ways, in

the making of soup, stew, casseroles, ravioli, chili, bread, lasagna, salad, nachos

and fajitas, pancakes, risotto, quesadillas, biscuits, brownies and cupcakes,

smoothies, pot pie, wraps and even latkes with apple sauce.

Winter squash comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Acorn squash is mild

and nutty tasting and its skin, when roasted, is edible. This variety can be

baked, roasted, steamed or sautéed. Banana squash is elongated and has a

smooth orange, pink or blue skin. The flesh is rich, sweet and earthy, and it

can be used as a substitute in butternut squash recipes. Buttercup squash has

a sweet and creamy interior and tastes best when steamed. It is considered

the sweetest-tasting of all the winter squash varieties.

Butternut squash is my favourite. Its flesh is creamy and mildly sweet and

tastes more like sweet potato. Delicata squash tastes like pumpkin, while

Kabocha squash is reminiscent of a blend between sweet potato and pumpkin.

Despite the variety, winter squash is loaded with nutrients important to

support our health during the coldest months of the year, such as vitamins

A and C, potassium, fibre, folate and thiamin, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene,

antioxidants and omega-3s. Beta-carotene is important in preventing colon

cancer, while omega-3 fatty acids are good for the heart and the brain. Higher

amounts of alpha-carotene have also been linked to lowering upper digestive

tract cancers, Type 2 diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease.

Simply said, winter squash is a super food in my opinion. Due to its natural

sweetness, winter squash – when highlighted in an entrée – demands a white

wine with equal sweetness. If you pair a winter squash dish with red wine, the

tannin will clash with the sweetness and make the wine taste rancid. If you

want to sip red, then choose one in the ‘forward fruit’ style with low tannin.

The red should be soft and fruity and smooth, like Merlot.

I created this dish from scratch for a dear friend’s birthday dinner. The guests

raved about it for days afterwards.

WINTER SQUASH

Roasted Winter Squash

Stuffed with Chipotle Pulled

Pork and Aged Cheddar

Serves 6 to 8

Pulled Pork

3-4 lb. pork shoulder (trim excess fat)

1 sweet onion (finely chopped)

salt (to taste)

BBQ Sauce

2 tbsp. clarified butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 to 2 cans (6 oz.) tomato paste

(depending on how thick you like the sauce)

⅓-cup apple cider vinegar

½-cup coconut palm sugar

2 to 3 heaping tbsp. of chipotle in adobe sauce

2 tbsp. dried mustard

1 tsp. kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Squash: 4 squash, cut in half lengthwise

Seeds:

seeds from squash

2 tbsp. olive oil

kosher salt as needed

Garnish:

½-cup shredded aged cheddar

Greek yogurt (as needed)

squash seeds

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