Chaparral Gardens and Winter Squash

“We grow 120 different varieties of pumpkins and winter squash,” says Becky Barlogio of Jack Creek Farms on Highway 46 halfway between Paso Robles and Highway 1, “so that gives us ample material to experiment with in the kitchen.” The Barlogios are experts at getting creative with preparing winter squash by incorporating Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars. These specialty vinegars made with organic ingredients have made organic squash meals in the Barlogio kitchen even more creative.

Becky Barlogio and a “Cinderella” pumpkin

Supporting Your Neighbors

It’s the end of the season at Jack Creek Farms and your last chance to secure some amazing heirloom varieties of organic squash such as the pumpkin-sized Marina di Chioggia. On a recent visit, big and smaller winter squash cluster in mounds here and there, including several varieties I’d never seen before. This country store which produces herbs and produce throughout the growing season features many local products from soaps to olive oils including six varieties of Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars. The Barlogios, fifth generation farmers, support other local businesses because they know how important a healthy economy is to every business and family in the community. “We really love to support other local, family-run businesses like us,” she says.

our 14 pound Marina di Chioggia winter squash

Most people think of winter squash with hearty and hot recipes especially those spiced with cinnamon, ginger and cloves. One favorite Barlogio recipe turns chilled cooked squash into a crispy salad that is bright, fresh, and clean. Becky discovered this unique preparation when they had a huge amount of cooked spaghetti squash leftover after a squash tasting event: “I chilled the squash after I baked and shredded it and, when it was cold, drizzled it with a little Olio Nuevo Olive Oil and Craig and Cari’s Italian vinegar. We added crumbled feta and sliced sun-dried tomatoes and it was crisp and tender, nutty and tart. It’s one of our favorites.” You can substitute other kinds of cheeses, such as parmesan. Like a good pasta salad, this chilled spaghetti squash salad pairs well with roast chicken and pork dishes.

Picking Favorites

When considering her favorites among the six varieties of Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars that Jack Creek Farms sells, “I really love the Italian vinegar,” she says. “It just has such a flavorful, herby, and tart punch. You get that brightness from the lemon and vinegar, of course. The fresh herbal note pairs well with the earthy squash.” She also appreciates how the quality of these vinegars lend a flavorful hand in the kitchen because they enhance everything from your basic salad dressings to less expected preparations such as making a reduction on the stove until it creates a thick syrup to drizzle over vanilla bean ice cream or a dark chocolate flourless cake. “One of our favorites is the Blackberry Balsamic,” says Becky “because it has such a rich punch of flavor, it takes so little to transform a dish.” She loves to use these vinegars as a secret ingredient: “With just a small amount you can get a really different flavor.”

We picked up an enormous Marina di Chioggia squash which we’re planning to have for our low key feast to celebrate the winter solstice. Becky gave me a few ideas such as roasting it with walnut oil, honey and a sprinkling of a Spice of Life spice mix. I think we’ll have fun figuring out how to use this squash well and tucking some away in the freezer for later. Jack Creek Farms is a great place to visit on a pretty late fall evening. From now until the end of the year, Jack Creek Farms offers all the products in their country store, including every bottle of Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars, 2 for 1.

late fall sunset at Jack Creek Farms

Foodie Awards:

  • Blackberry Balsamic 2011 SOFI Gold for best salad dressing
  • Pacific Spice 2011 SOFI Silver for best flavor enhancer
  • Champagne Mimosa 2012 SOFI Silver finalist for best shelf stable foodservice product


You can purchase Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars online at, at more than a dozen local wine tasting rooms, and at a number of specialty food outlets including Nature’s Touch Harvest and Nursery and J & R Meats in Templeton, Lazy Acres Market in Santa Barbara, A Matter of Taste in Cambria, and all three Central Coast We Olive stores. View a list of outlets offering these wonderful products If you would like to have a private tasting in their Highway 41 tasting room, contact Craig to set up a time: 805/703-0829

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