Saturday, 28 September 2013

What to do with those squashes and gourds?


We're starting to harvest our first round of squashes. We have buttercup, acorn, small pumpkin, and spaghetti squash. While squash can be a bit intimidating to cut up, once you have the cut up squash in hand there are so many possibilities. You can roast it, eat it boiled in cubes or mashed, put it in a soup and puree it.

Spaghetti squash is unique in that when you bake it and scrape out the insides it comes out stringy like spaghetti noodles. You can eat these on their own with some garlic butter, or service it like noodles with pasta sauce.

My favourite way to prepare it is to cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, then bake it with garlic butter, salt, and pepper for about 20-30 minutes or until it is tender. Some people face it down onto the pan, but I like to have it facing up so the butter stays in the squash. Just like it shows here.

As for other squashes, I once took a trip to Guyana, South America, where they have a delicious dish called pumpkin curry. They usually serve this sweet and spicy squash curry with rice and/or roti (a kind of flat bread). RĂ´ti can be difficult and time consuming to make so serving with pita bread is easier.

The best squash for this is butternut, but really any pumpkin, acorn, or other yellow-fleshed squash will do.

This is the best recipe I have found on line. Over time you can perfect it to your own tastes:
Ingredients:
  • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped well.
  • water to cover
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • ~1 tbsp garam masala*
  • ~1 tbsp brown sugar*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 whole hot peppers
Directions:
Peel and seed butternut squash, then chop into small pieces. Put some oil on the bottom of a stockpot and heat until hot, add the onion, garlic, and cumin seed and fry until fragrant. Add the pumpkin and fry to caramelise and seal (about 3 minutes). Fill the stockpot with water until squash is just barely covered. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Add spices and sugar, cover, and simmer until squash is soft, about an hour. Stir occasionally.
At this point, the squash should be absorbing the water and turning into a mash. Continue to stir the pumpkin until it is well combined with the water. Taste the pumpkin at this point and if it is getting spicy you can remove the hot peppers. Continue to simmer until thick, another 10 minutes; it will be a little less thick than mashed potatoes when fully cooked.
Serve with roti and rice while still hot. Also good for breakfast with bakes and egg.

 *Note from author: If you have a small pumpkin, it is very easy to over spice the dish, and if you have a big one, easy to under spice. So here is my tip:
Use equal amounts of garam masala and brown sugar- you want a spicy sweet combination. The final colour of the pumpkin should be a golden auburn- not brown, not yellow this will help you measure your spice. Start with small spice, then add more to taste, but make sure you get it in after the boil so that the spices cook in!

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