Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Other Squash Options

I have used Mama F's Squash casserole, and it was amazing! Think mashed potatoes with cheese, and butter and bread crumbs....mmmmmmmmm...only it was yummy squash!

I had, on my kitchen counter, a total of 18, yes 18 crookneck squash (yellow, bumpy guy), ready to be eaten, or I'd have to toss them into my composter...and I did not want to do that...so I baked, pureed, and froze them...first time ever doing that for me...I know, I know...but here's what I did...

Pureed Squash (for use in soups, sauces, cakes)

Ripe Squash

Heat oven to around 350 degrees.
Slice squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and place flesh-side down in 13 x 9 baking dish. If you're using a drier squash variety, add about 1/4 C of water to the baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, checking to see if uniformly tender. Check each 10 - 15 minutes after that to keep from overcooking. Remove from oven, let cool to touch. Remove from pan, and slice to fit into your food mill, food processor. NOTE - if you do not have something like the Kitchen-Aid, or Oster Kitchen Center, you will need to PEEL the squash prior to running it through your mill/processor. Place into quart-sized freezer bags, lay on a cookie sheet, and freeze. Once frozen, you can then lay them flat on a shelf in a basket in your freezer, OR you can stand them like books on your shelf/in your freezer basket.

I use the quart-sized bags, as that usually equates to a doubled recipe for most things. I think, as they are completely unseasoned, I'm going to try using some of it in carrot cake, and maybe even in a "pumpkin" pie...

This is a great option (I had a friend gift me with her surplus bags of squash she'd done as baby food for her daughter before they knew that she was allergic to squash), as I didn't use it all as baby food, but would toss it into my soups to thicken it, and then got the crazy thought of using it in place of tomato paste in a recipe, and was AMAZED at how it didn't change the taste, consistency, and in fact, my crazy picky nephew who doesn't eat vegetables, actually ate several helpings of the stew, and even more of the spaghetti with the sauce...and he NEVER eats sauce when they have spaghetti at their house...

What to Do With Underripe Squash

Well, as ever, I goofed...but not too badly...I planted Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, and Crookneck squash, along with good old zucchini. As is the way with those type of plants in my garden, we have had waaaayyyy more than enough to eat fresh, and honestly, just how much cooked zucchini can you handle? We've had it fried, stir-fried, sauteed, steamed, in bread, in cake, in spaghetti sauce, raw (think cucumber slices with some salt and pepper)...you name it, we've had it that way...I think. Same with the Crookneck squash. When I saw the acorn all glossy green and giant on the vine, I automatically picked it...ooops! I didn't realize that a "winter squash" was supposed to stay on the vine until right after the first frost/freeze of the fall, as that hardens the rind, and changes the sugars inside, creating the delicious flavor of the squash that we know, and some of us love! So, I had about 6 acorns, and 5 spaghetti squash on my dining table, hoping to cure them and be able to keep them whole, in my garage or basement until we were ready to eat them over the winter...

I decided to call my local Garden Center (NOT a Home Depot, but an actual garden/flower store), and talked to one of the growers there. He recommended the following options:

1 - Blanch, peel, seed, and cube the squash, pack it in quart bags/containers, and freeze. You can defrost them during the off-season, stir-fry them, or steam them, and put them into soup etc.

2 - Using the good ol' Interweb, look up a recipe for "Indian Pickle", and voila! You've got a yummy, raw-food option for any underripe produce, that is healthy, easy, and something new!

I recently used the first option, as I didn't want to get the rest of the ingredients that I didn't have for the pickle option, and am now the proud freezer stuffer of 3 gallon-sized containers of spaghetti squash...