Monday, May 12, 2008

Squash Varieties (Part 4 of 4)

Spaghetti (also called vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow, noodle squash or squaghetti) - A small, watermelon-shaped variety, ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds or more. It has a golden-yellow, oval rind and a mild, nutlike flavor. When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble spaghetti pasta. The yellowest Spaghetti squash will be the ripest and best to eat. Those that are nearly white are not very ripe.
To prepare spaghetti squash, cut the gourd in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, then bake or boil it until tender. Or, wrap it in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes. Once cooked, use a fork to rake out the "spaghetti-like" stringy flesh, and serve.
Spaghetti Squash can be stored at room temperature for about a month. After cutting, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well.
Available year-round - season early fall through winter.

Sweet Dumpling - This small, mildly sweet-tasting squash resembles a miniature pumpkin with its top pushed in. Weighing only about 7 ounces, it has sweet and tender orange flesh and is a great size for stuffing and baking as individual servings. Sweet dumplings are tiny but great for roasting and presenting whole.
Available throughout the fall.

Turban - Turban Squash has colors that vary from bright orange, to green or white. It has golden-yellow flesh and its taste is reminiscent to hazelnut. Has a bulb like cap swelling from its blossom end, come in bizarre shapes with extravagant coloration that makes them popular as harvest ornamentals. It is popular for centerpieces, and its top can be sliced off so it can be hollowed and filled with soup. A larger variety of the buttercup squash, the turban has a bright orange-red rind. The turban-like swirl on its blossom end is a fanciful variegated orange, red and white. Its flesh and storage ability are comparable to the buttercup's.
Available year-round - season is late summer through early fall.

Allow 1/3 pound per person.
One pound of winter squash equals about 2 cups of cooked, mashed squash.
One medium-size (15 to 20 pounds) pumpkin will yield 5 to 7 quarts of cooked pumpkin.

To Store:
Place squash on top of thick pads of newspapers in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. Check on a regular basis for rot and use within three to six months.
Refrigerate tightly wrapped cut pieces of winter squash, such as banana, and use within five days.

To Prepare:
Winter squash matures on the vine and develops an inedible, thick, hard rind and tough seeds. Because this rind makes most squash difficult to peel, it's easier to cook the unpeeled squash, and then scoop out the cooked flesh. Wash the exterior of the squash just before using. The seeds are scooped out before or after cooking.
To cut in half, grasp the squash firmly and use a sharp knife to slice through to the center. Then flip and cut the other side until the squash falls open. Remove and discard the seeds.
To bake a whole (1 to 1 1/2 pound) winter squash, pierce the rind with a fork and bake in a 350-degree oven 45 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing with a fork.
Boil or steam quarters or rings 25 minutes or until tender.


A Primer on Winter Squash, North Coast Cooperative.

The Sweet & Savory Sides of Winter Squash, by Ris Lacoste, Taunton Press.

Winter Squash Good Keepers in Produce Department, by Patricia Aaron, Sept. 24, 2003.

Wonderful Winter Squash, by Terra Brockman, Conscious Choice, October 2002.