Winter squashes, gourds and pumpkins on North Fork farm stands are so plentiful, cheap, and colorful that they stop traffic. Did you just drive on the shoulder to get around someone pulling over for $2 butternut and acorn squashes? Maybe you should join them. Stored properly these just-harvested beauties keep for weeks.
And so you need leave no squash behind, here are suggestions from North Fork farmers for bringing out the best in every one.
For spaghetti, acorn and butternut squashes, Brenna at Sep’s Farm likes to steam/roast. “Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, cook in a roasting pan, with a half inch of water. No rack, put the squash right in the water and cover them. I put them cup-side up with brown sugar or maple syrup and butter and cook it until a fork goes into the skin easily.”
She also likes to cut acorn squash into rings, roast in a sheet pan and then into a frying pan to crack an egg into the middle to make the classic egg-in-a hole with squash instead of bread.
Edwin Morales has seen a squash or two in his 34 years working at Lathams Farm, and is partial to roasting especially for the enormous, thick-skinned Blue Hubbard squash. “Cut in half, scoop, roast half in the oven. Same for the kabocha.”
Other great varieties for roasting are butternut and honeynut, a smaller, darker and more flavorful cousin of the butternut. They can all be halved, scooped and roasted.
The seeds of any variety of winter squash are great roasted. As for a regular pumpkin, Brenna says, “They are mostly for decoration, but the seeds are delicious roasted in a sheet pan, and I like to leave some of the pumpkin guts on them to add flavor.”
Honeynut has the best flavor, but butternut and acorn are larger and also work well for pie-filling. Fresh pumpkin is not a great choice for pie because it lacks the flavor punch of the smaller squashes.
Our own local variety, Long Island cheese is great squash for a luscious, smooth soup. They look like Cinderella’s coach, and cook up moist and creamy. Calabaza is also a great soup squash, and an important ingredient in South American and Carribean soups such as sancocho, a traditional, celebratory chicken stew.
Jack-be-Little, Baby Bear and gooseneck squashes are too tough to cook successfully, but they make great decorations, and when they finally go soft, Brenna says, “we give them to the chickens.”