Squash! We got our first two squash of the season (acorn and butternut) our past couple CSA pickups. I’m super-excited for the winter varietals, but it’s apparently not great they’re here this early.
“We have harvested winter squash a few weeks ahead of schedule this year,” our Mountain View Farm farmers told us in their weekly newsletter. “This is due to a combination of early hot, very dry weather followed by a very wet stretch of time in August. These unique conditions led to an early harvest and squash that will not store very well.” I guess that just means we’ll have to use them up faster than usual—which we already did with our acorn squash.
The gourd, named because, well, it looks like an acorn, is green on the outside, with meaty orange flesh on the inside. For a simple way to prep it, cut it in half through the stem, then scoop the seeds. Add a touch of butter, maple syrup and/or brown sugar, plus some salt and pepper. Finally, bake it at 400 degrees until the flesh gets soft, about an hour. That was the first step to our acorn squash dinner. From there, we made pizza, with the squash pureed into sauce.
You don’t need anything fancy for this dish, I promise, but having a pizza stone helps immensely with the crust. We rolled out premade dough—after practicing way too many times, we still can’t make a circular base—then topped it with the squash, some goat cheese and red onion. There are two keys here: Use corn meal under the dough to prevent surface stickage when moving it to the oven. Second, preheat the pizza stone before cooking the meal. We left it in for about 75 minutes at really high heat; it makes a soft-yet-crunchy crust. And once in the oven, the pizza itself takes only 10-12 minutes.
For the butternut squash, we haven’t yet decided our recipe of choice, though I do want to bring up an awesome breakfast-for-dinner treat: Squash pancakes. The original recipe came from the Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. (My husband’s family used to sextuple it when they had it for dinner!) Today, we like to eat ours with applesauce. Here’s an option for you to try from Saveur magazine, one that pairs the pancakes with homemade maple butter.
A few notes about storing these cousins of cucumbers and melons. When they don’t arrive early and are kept in optimal conditions, they can last for a while. Regarding acorn squash, “The squash’s sturdy exterior allows it to be stored at room temperature for up to one month, or longer if kept in a cool, dark place,” according to MarthaStewart.com. Same goes for butternut squash, though it lasts several months, on average.
Here are a few more recipe ideas to use up your squash:
Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash Polenta Lasagna, Outside Magazine
Squash Bread, Watch Your Garden Grow/University of Illinois Extension (scroll to the bottom)
Acorn Squash Soup with Kale, Martha Stewart
Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash, Martha Stewart
Spaghetti Squash with Grilled Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Peas, Ruffles & Truffles