Dec 6th, 2005
Up until yesterday I had eight squash in a box in the corner of my kitchen. The mystery squash from my parents had acquired some friends and set up house. We had come to an understanding - I treated them like a rustic holiday decoration, Ian carted the little ones around the house, and the squash themselves sat in the corner trying really hard not to remind me that they are indeed edible. But when I saw my organic delivery box order for next week and realized that my little squash family would soon expand to nine, I knew the time had come to act. And act I did. Only two squash survived the carnage. They've gotten grief counseling and are moving on though, already planning the little empire they will create when squash #3 arrives on Thursday.
So how do you use six squash in three days? Spiced Winter Squash Butter helps. I used up two acorns and two small delicatas making three half-pint jars of a really sweet and spicy spread that's good on pancakes, toast, and yogurt. In fact it was a little bit two sweet for me so I added the juice of a small lemon and decided that was a good addition. If I made it again I would probably cut the brown sugar down just a little. If you pack the spread into sterilized jars they make good gifts, and will last in the refrigerator for several months.
The last delicata made its way into a Squash, Chicken, and Coconut Milk Curry. This was one of those times where I started throwing things into a pan not really knowing where I would end up - in fact originally I was going to add beans and salsa instead of coconut curry. I might try the Mexican version one of these days. Anyway, to make the curry I sauted some leeks, garlic, and ginger in a bit of olive oil. I peeled and cubed the squash and added that to the pan after the leeks were softened. Then I stirred in just a little bit of green curry paste and a little bit of Tom Yom soup paste - the Tom Yom soup paste is very optional, but it gave it a bit of tang that I liked. After the squash had browned a bit I added about half a can of coconut milk and fish sauce to taste and simmered the stew with the lid on. I had poached some chicken separately for the kids, but you could cook cubed chicken breast right in the curry if you'd like. So when the squash was soft and the tastes had come together, I added the chicken, heated it through, and topped it all off with some chopped cilantro and green onion. Once I realized this was going to end up being a curry I had thrown some jasmine rice in a pot, it's so quick to cook that it can take my mealtime indecision. The resulting curry over rice was excellent, spicy and tangy and sweet. Jim identified the squash as yellow pepper, so it's a pretty good dish for hiding squash if you've got some gourd-phobes in the house.
I roasted the first mystery squash whole in the oven, chopped it open, and found it was indeed a spaghetti squash. I was planning on making spaghetti squash fritters the next day, so I scraped out the strands of squash with a fork and chucked them in the fridge. I ended up not having enough eggs to carry through the fritters plan though, so I cooked the squash as if it were leftover pasta. I sauted leeks and garlic again in some olive oil and squeezed extra liquid out of the squash before adding it to the pan. After the squash browned a bit I stirred in a few tablespoons of leftover tomato sauce and a few diced canned tomatoes. Not a lot as I didn't want a watery sauce, just enough to color the squash. Garlic powder, italian seasoning, and chopped olives went in next and I continued cooking until the squash was fairly dry. A little parmesan on top and it was done. Jim can't deal with the stringyness of spaghetti squash so it was all mine, all mine. Is it wrong to consume an entire spaghetti squash for dinner? Not that I'm admitting anything here...
And so ends the saga of the squash, for now anyway.