Squash Wars: Strawberry Crown

IMG_2005Strawberry Crown is unusual: it has a distinct melon-y flavour and a texture sort of like a cross between spaghetti squash, cantaloupe, and a delicata squash; crisp, coarse and thin – almost watery. It doesn’t have the dense richness of my favourite squashes, but it’s good. It’s just not great plain roasted by itself. It wouldn’t be my first choice for soup, either.

It is great roasted, frozen in chunks and then blended into a smoothie or frozen banana “ice cream”. I added some allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon and it was like eating frozen pumpkin pie filling for breakfast. So that was coobox-graterl. It’s also good sliced raw into ragged ribbons on the large, smile-shaped holes of a box grater (see pic.) and then marinated in oil, vinegar, and salt or soya sauce for a salad. So, yeah, I would say this squash certainly has its uses and I am happy to have found it at the farmers’ market, since I had only seen this variety in books and online before.

Strawberry Crown’s seeds are great for eating too: huge, fat, and bright white, and easy to separate from the squash innards.

 

 

Squash Wars: Delicata and Sriracha Seeds

I surprised myself by actually really liking this delicata. I’ve had several that were bland and watery, and didn’t get why people liked them, but this one was a winner.  It was sweet and subtle but definitely distinctly squash-y tasty. Rounds of it grilled up on a waffle iron in under 10 minutes.

Like other squash in the c. pepo species, its seeds are pretty small, and probably not worth eating if you’re like me and have lots of big, fat c. maxima seeds around. Speaking of seeds, yesterday I dressed some (maxima) squash seeds in sriracha sauce before dehydrating them, and they are amazing. All I did was rinse them, and then (without drying) squirt on a moderate amount of sriracha, mix them to coat, and throw them in the food dehydrator for a day. It would probably work in a low-heat oven as well.

Squash Wars: Sunshine

“Sunshine … seems to make superb squash even when poorly grown.”

  • Carol Deppe, The Resilient Gardener

I found another squash to fall in love with! Not as sweet as Honeynut, or with quite as dry and floury or powdery a texture as Blue Banana, Sunshine is still an amazing find, and top-ranking in my opinion. Sunshine (F1 – it’s a hybrid) has thick, soft and smooth flesh, giant, plump, flavourful seeds, and barely any watery guts inside, making the seeds easy to clean. The meat of the squash is sweet but complex tasting and seems to just melt in your mouth. Even cold it is delicious and full of flavour. I have been baking it and eating it plain with a side of homemade fermented cashew cheese, or baked it in little pieces and put it in miso soup. The problem with the latter is that it’s so tempting, baked into little bite-sized chunks that I end up eating a lot of them before they make it to the soup. Oh well.

Sunshine is a type of kuri squash, but the pretty much identical-looking Orange Kuri I had a while ago didn’t even bear a resemblance to Sunshine, flavour-wise. So, if you’re looking for this squash, you might have to ask the grower its variety, and not depend on what it looks like. I was only lucky enough to get it because I asked the Blue Banana grower at the farmers’ market what she recommended, and she mentioned the Sunshine. I had assumed they were Orange Kuris, which are more common. This squash has won a bunch of flavour awards, and Carol Deppe, weird squash aficionado (she is weird, I mean, not the squash) swears by Sunshine as a delicious prime winter squash in short or imperfect growing seasons. She is all about growing squash a certain way, and she may well be right. Anyway, I can’t praise this squash enough.

5-Squash Dinner

IMG_2002I wrote already about kabocha, chayote, bitter melon, and honeynut, and have mentioned butternut squash a few times as well. Well, without trying I ended up making a meal of all of them together one night. The funny thing is that it really didn’t feel like I was eating a lot of one thing at all.

I made soup with chayote and butternut cut into noodle-like ribbons, then the bitter melon dish I mentioned in that post in half a kabocha. And the honeynut was dessert (not pictured- just a honeynut cut in half and baked).

Sorry about the bad food photography (I promise it won’t happen often) but I thought this was hilarious when I realized it, and had to prove that it actually happened.

Squash Wars: Chayote

IMG_2018Like bitter melon, I have been curious about chayote for a while and wanting to give it a try. It’s also a gourd, not actually a squash, but close enough! I ate some raw and some sliced into thin ribbons and just barely cooked in soup. I was expecting it to be fairly bland, comparably to a lot of summer squash, but to my surprise it’s somewhat sweet – almost as sweet as a decent carrot or maybe jicama or a particularly good kohlrabi. And yeah, it was nicely crispy too. I am into it!

Squash Wars: Butterkin

IMG_1994 Butterkin: the squat, round version of the butternut squash. I have had a couple of them this year – one from the market and one from the food co-op. Both were good, the flavour indistinguishable from a butternut – slightly syrupy, warm and pleasant. The texture is a bit thinner and more watery than a good butternut, but this seems to fix itself after a day in the fridge since the leftovers are thick and smooth. These seem to be popping up everywhere around here and are good, though not exquisite.