Thursday, February 10, 2011

The last butternut of the year.

Is squash a forgotten food?  It looks like squash has faded away in importance in our times, which is a great loss.  Pick up an heirloom catalogue and it is apparent that squash has been taken seriously by growers for a long time - there are hundreds of squash varieties that have been developed all over the world. 
I’m partial to Delicata squash, an heirloom squash which was nearly lost forever but saved by the efforts of some dedicated gardeners.  Delicata is not a great keeper, and I have lost the plant the past two years to the vine borer, but not before some Delicatas were harvested and eaten with gusto.  In my garden, butternut squash has been the dependable producer.  The variety I have planted is Metro PMR (F1) from Johnny’s Seeds.  It produces just right size butternuts, about 3 pounds, which makes two nice servings.  So far it’s been impervious to the vine borer , is mildew resistant, and the flavor is incredible, with high sugar content and beautiful color.  I couldn’t ask for more, this is an incredibly high quality variety.  The yields of squash in 2010 were not great, 8 butternuts from one plant,  compared to the prior year when I got 25 nice size butternuts from a single plant.  This is the last one from 2010, worthy of a tribute.   Here’s a picture of the last squash, it’s got a very small seed cavity and great color. 

Here is a basic butternut squash prep that I use:  Cut the squash in half lengthwise.  Leave the seeds in, they will add flavor.  Coat a fry pan with a little oil, place the squash halves face down in the pan, add ¼ cup water, put the lid on, and simmer until soft.   For well cured squash, this can take up to 90 minutes, store-bought squash will usually soften in 30 minutes.  When soft, remove from the pan,  turn face up, scoop out seeds, score the pulp with a butter knife then spread the pulp evenly around the squash.  Top with 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, some ginger and cinnamon.  Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.  Simple and very satisfying.  Having just finished off ½  butternut prepared this way, I can’t even begin to describe how good this is.  

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