It may not be intuitive that WINTER Squash refers to a number of fantastic SUMMER crops! Many winter squashes (or pumpkins) are in the same genus Cucurbita. They can be eaten fresh in their youthful softness in summertime. If left on the vine to mature into autumn, the same bulbous fruit develops a sturdy, tough skin, “shell” or “rind” which makes them into great “keepers” through the winter. You can save one whole, without refrigeration, until a feast or potluck occasion calls you to open it up to serve a crowd.
Tia Marta here to share some creative ideas for serving winter squash–aka pumpkins. The harvest of heirloom pumpkins at Tucson’s Mission Garden last fall was sumptuous and I purchased one of my favorites, Magdalena Big Cheese Squash. It is so named because NativeSeedsSEARCH plant explorers were given it many decades ago by a farmer in Magdalena, Sonora, and its shape resembles an old-fashioned cheese-wheel.
Exercise care in cutting this huge pumpkin. It can be tough and requires a hefty knife. You can clean the seed to dry and save for next summer’s monsoon garden, or to share with the Pima County Public Library’s Seed Library. There are enough seeds inside to use some to toast with garlic oil and salt for a healthy, zinc-filled snack (especially good to eat for boosting the immune system in flu season).
It took two of us to cut wedges of it, one to stabilize the fat fruit keeping hands out of the way. We shared chunks with several friends and relatives, and, unbeknownst to each other, each sent an email exclaiming how it was “truly the best squash I have EVER tasted!” There couldn’t be better recommendations.
For a down-home easy dish, try stir-frying slices of Magdalena Big Cheese with marinated tofu and other veggies, and serve over rice.
If you have leftovers, or if you want to serve a more exotic dish, you can curry your steamed or roasted squash, mashing with curry powder, salt and pepper to taste, then serving it with side “boys” to complement the curry. I place little bowls of crystalized ginger, TJ’s blistered peanuts, dried currants, grated coconut, and banana slices for guests to bedeck their curry with.
I don’t just cook winter squashes. They are so sculptural that I have to document them–to paint them! You are cordially invited to see my squash and gourd watercolors displayed next weekend at our Flor de Mayo Studio — Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9, 2020–at our ArtTrails.org OPEN STUDIO TOUR on Tucson’s West Side. See the ArtTrails website for a map to Flor de Mayo Studio (also showing photographer Rod Mondt’s nature images).