winter squash

Squash Fest at the Farmers’ Market this weekend

The Comox Valley Farmers’ Market Saturday at the Native Son’s Hall

Seasonal eating is still easy this time of year.

We can still get lots of local root veggies, some hardy greens, brussels sprouts and cabbage, and lots of winter squash. What to do with all that squash? Find out at Winter Squash Fest this weekend at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.

Volunteer chefs Cory Wheeler and Pierre Conroy will offer their culinary expertise to educate around and encourage seasonal feasting on winter squash. The pair plans to prepare a squash-carrot-apple-ginger soup, plus some savoury squash & cheddar mini pancakes for tasting at this weekend’s Market.

Winter squash is seasonally available from about August until mid-winter, making it a fall staple for seasonal diets. Its rich, sweet flavour offers one of the richest sources of plant-based anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega 3s and beta-carotene, which are important for a strong immune system to help protect against colds and flu. Seeds from winter squash make a great snack food, just like pumpkin seeds. If you scoop the pulp and seeds from inside the squash and separate the seeds, you can place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170F in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Cory and Pierre’s day job is running Perico Cuisine. They graduated from the Professional Cook 3 program in 2012 and continue to apprentice their way towards a Red Seal certification. They are offering their expertise as part of a partnership between the Farmers’ Market and the North Vancouver Island Chefs Association (NVICA) who have supported Cory and Pierre throughout their schooling and beyond.

“We continue to volunteer for this non-profit organization, as we have since 2010, as it brings together a local community of students, chefs, instructors, mentors, foodies, artisans, farmers and the like,” Wheeler says.

Pierre and Cory look forward to “getting our squash on” and providing samples to the public at Squash Fest on Dec. 6. The Comox Valley Farmers’ Market runs from 9-noon every Saturday at the Native Son’s Hall until Dec. 20, and then reopens Jan. 10, 2015.