Monday, October 10, 2011

Trying New Foods - The Fall Squash Challenge

I like to call of myself an adventurous eater but, I am embarrassed to say, I have not ventured very far into the colorful world of squash.  This fall and winter I have assigned myself a fun little challenge - try all of those bumpy, warty, unusual looking squash that I have shied away from in the past.  I already know that I enjoy pumpkin, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash and now thanks to my challenge I have a new favorite, buttercup squash.  For those who enjoy botany here is a Wikipedia article that includes buttercup squash.

I picked up this little warty gem at a great farmer's market in Richland, Washington.  The seller had a whole array of squash and I wanted to try them all but managed to narrow it down to one.  The reason I went for the buttercup was simple, there were a group of us standing there wondering what to do with this fantastic looking produce and the seller pointed to the buttercup and told us it was her favorite.  She gave a brief description of how she cooks them and all four of us reached in and grabbed her remaining squash!

Review:  This squash is AMAZING!!!!  Delicious, easy to prepare and enjoyed by both my sisters husband, who would prefer not to eat vegetables, and my toddler. The texture was so smooth and creamy and the flavor was fantastic all by itself.  It was starchy and substantial like mashed potatoes without needing any cream or whipping.  The smooth texture and full flavor would make it a great option for both savory and sweet applications.  I could see using it in place of pumpkin to make a pie but also topping with some sour cream and onions like a baked potato.  In short, TRY THIS SQUASH!

So here is how I cooked it:
  • Rinse the outside and then pop the whole squash into the microwave for a minute.  This softens the skin and makes it easier to cut.
  • Cut it in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.
  • Place both halves in a baking dish with about 3/4 of an inch of water in the bottom.
  • Drizzle squash with some olive oil, about a tablespoon for each half and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 375 until the meat is soft enough to cut with a butter knife - around 45 minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size.

The woman at the farmers market said she likes to top hers with butter and brown sugar before she bakes it.  I was looking for a more savory flavor and that is why I chose olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Once the squash was cooked through I let it cool just a few minutes before scooping all the meat from the rind into a serving bowl.  It was so creamy all it needed was a brief stir to smooth out the texture before it was ready to eat.  
I'm not sure how big the squash was, perhaps 3 pounds, but it fed four people with a little bit leftover. (I ate the leftovers as a mid morning snack the next day!) I have been thinking longingly about this squash for the last couple of days and you better believe it will be on my dinner table again very soon.  I hope you try it and let me know what you think.

Some humongous Pink Banana Squash!  I have added these to my list of new squash to try, stay tuned.


  1. Rose, thanks for featuring squash. We have been stuck on delicata and spaghetti. We were inspired to try this one and it was delish. I thought I'd give it a headstart by pre-cooking in the microwave for ten minutes whole. Well, it was perfectly cooked and ready to eat with salt and pepper. Your good work is putting a local spin on seasonal cooking. Cheryl.

  2. I'm so glad you tried this and even more pleased that you liked it! I'll have to try cooking it entirely in the microwave next time.

  3. Greetings squash enthusiasts!

    Come visit Our Lady of Second Helpings current home there are tons more recipes and the pictures have significantly improved. :)