This Just Maika Cooking: Cook’s Notebook section will focus on everything related to prepping gourds connected to all my recipe posts, updated frequently.
What are Gourds?
Gourds are also called cucurbits, and under this family are the squash, melons, and cucumbers, according to Wikipedia: Cucurbitaceae. I swore I knew the answer to this, but in my head, gourds were just pumpkins and hard-shelled squashes.
However, it includes melon, watermelon, squash, cucumber, and zucchini. This section will focus on how to prep anything related to gourds when it comes along during my preps.
Acorn squash, a winter squash variety, features a distinctive acorn-like shape with ridged, dark green skin and sweet, yellow-orange flesh. Rich in nutrients, it's a versatile and delicious addition to autumn and winter culinary creations.
Sliced Half Rings
Begin by washing the acorn squash thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris from the skin.
Then, With a sharp chef's knife, carefully cut off both ends of the squash to create stable bases.
Stand the squash upright and slice it in half vertically, exposing the seed-filled center.
Finally, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and fibers,
Then cut the remaining halves into, even half rings.
Cook Acorn Squash
Now you're ready to cook or roast these delectable acorn squash rings to perfection!
Arrange the acorn squash slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite seasonings, or just salt and pepper, and roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until they're golden and tender.
No Mess Tip - For less mess, you can use parchment paper.
Air Fryer Directions
Place the acorn squash slices in a single layer in the air fryer basket, lightly coat with olive oil, and air fry at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, until they achieve a crispy golden perfection. Yum!
Large Chunks for Roasting
Use this method for a rustic, cozy style meal. I used this technique in my Roasted Calabrian Pepper Spatchcocked Chicken & Vegetables recipe.
Recommended Air Fryers
The Consori, Philips, and Ninja air fryers stand out for their exceptional performance and versatility. Save space in your kitchen! I suggest you buy an air fryer with multiple functions.
Consori impresses with precise temperature control and a large capacity, while Philips boasts rapid hot air circulation technology for even cooking. America Test Kitchen also recommended Philips.
Finally, and of course, Ninja excels with a variety of cooking functions, including roasting and dehydrating, making them all top choices for efficient and delicious air frying experiences, and it is one of my personal favorites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store acorn squash in a cool, dark place with good ventilation, such as a pantry or cellar, and it can last for several weeks. Once cut, refrigerate the unused portion in an airtight container for up to a week.
Since acorn squash is so easy to cook, I always buy an extra one to use later for a quick meal since they surprisingly last a long time.
Yes, the skin of acorn squash is edible and contains valuable nutrients. However, it's often recommended to roast or cook the squash with the skin on for better texture, and you can choose to eat it or easily scoop out the flesh after cooking.
The squash's flesh has a delicate texture with a slightly sweet taste, and with the skin on, it looks gorgeous with its rigid edges. Great for presentation!
Acorn squash pairs well with various seasonings, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and even savory options like thyme and rosemary. Experiment with different herbs and spices to find the flavor profile that suits your taste preferences.
You can't go wrong since acorn squash tastes subtly sweet. Experiment! Season with cinnamon and sugar, roast, and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Cucumbers belong to the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, making them botanical cousins to pumpkins, melons, and squash. Despite their reputation as a crisp and refreshing vegetable, cucumbers are, in fact, classified as a fruit since they develop from the flower and contain seeds, characteristic of their gourd lineage. Who knew?!
Half Moon Slices
When a recipe calls for half moons, like the cucumber, you cut it in half lengthwise, then slice it according to the thickness needed in a recipe. You can achieve this cut with a knife and a vegetable slicer, like the Benriner Vegetable Slicer. Learn more about the Japanese Mandoline.
These Half Moon Slices are used for the following:
Julienne / Matchsticks
What? Prepping gourds with a mandoline? Yes! When using a Japanese mandoline to julienne cucumber, first ensure the mandoline blade is set to the desired thickness, and then securely attach the cucumber using the safety guard to protect your fingers, producing uniformly thin and even cucumber strips effortlessly for a visually appealing and quick addition to salads or sushi rolls.
Important: Remember to exercise caution and use gentle, controlled strokes to achieve the best results while avoiding injury. Learn more about the Japanese Mandoline.
Recipes using matchstick cucumber pieces are:
Zucchini is classified as a gourd, belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family as well, and is botanically considered a fruit due to its seed-bearing nature despite its common culinary use as a vegetable. Unbelievable right?!
Uniformed Quartered Slices
Sometimes, a recipe will ask for a squash to be cut into quartered slices. For example, this is when you cut the zucchini horizontally into four stick pieces. But what happens when one end of the zucchini is much bigger?
- First, you’ll divide the zucchini in half, where the sizes are drastically different.
- For the smaller part, you will cut into quarters, four even sticks, and then slice them to the desired width.
- Then, you will take the large part and cut it in half.
- Then, you will cut those halves into three sticks each, as pictured above.
- And slice them the same width you did the quartered slices.
The large part of a zucchini is cut into six, mimicking the cut of the smaller size cut into quarters.
Recipes using this technique are:
- Korean Style Beef Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Mash and Stir-Freid Vegetables
- Air Fryer Quick 5 Vegetable Medley
Looking for recipes to try? Check these out:
Never stop learning. Did you like learning about prepping gourds? Get more cooking tips with these articles:
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