Varieties of Squash
Varieties of Squash: A happy family
Bitter Melon You will find these aptly named vegetables in oriental cooking. They are warty, dark green and spiny but are prized for their bitter quality and are said to be beneficial for those afflicted with Diabetes. Often cut into small pieces and sliced open, they are par boiled to remove some of the bitterness. Then they are encrusted with spice and fried until golden brown.
Courgettes, Zucchini, Yellow Zucchini, Patty Pan, Summer Crookneck
These are the members of the Courgettes family. Their flesh is white and their skin is smooth though it comes in a wide variety of colors and textures. The smaller the vegetable the more tender it is and the sooner eaten fresh from the field the better. Versatile, they need little cooking and can be grilled, sliced and stuffed, added to salads or stir fries, braised, broiled, baked and incorporated into a quick cake batter or mashed with butter, sea salt and pepper.
Cucumber Cucumber? Surprise! They are a member of the squash family. There are several varieties that are plentiful and available at the market year round. They are normally served raw but are surprisingly delicious when cooked. Add to a Sambar or soup, or a cream sauce.
English Cucumbers or Burpless Cucumbers have fewer seeds and a more tender skin than the Ridged Cucumber. They are often found wrapped in plastic and can be served as is or peeled in stripes with a zester to make a prettier presentation.
Gherkins are tiny, bright green warty skinned ‘cukes’ most often found pickled either as sweet gherkins or as dills.
Ridged Cucumbers are commonly found with a waxy coating which needs to be peeled away before serving. Often sliced and presented with the seeds removed. The flesh is cool (as a cucumber) and moist. An essential ingredient in Jajik an Armenian yoghurt, garlic, mint sauce with is frequently served over grilled vegetables.
Custard Marrows are pretty pale green squashes with a scalloped edge. Boil whole, remove the tops and seeds and serve with butter.
Marrows can grow to be pretty large and are best when cut in half and stuffed with tomato, rice and herbs. Topped with cheese and baked until tender.
Spaghetti Squash have incredibly hard shells. Their flesh is stringy which is where they got their name. Prick the ends of the squash deeply to penetrate the shell, boil for half an hour until they are pretty well done. Then you can cut them in half, remove the seeds and fluff the strands with a fork. Particularly good with a well herbed Agli Olio sauce.
Pumpkin The Pumpkin family has it's own varieties of squash as it includes all of the hard shell squashes:
Acorn, Buttercup, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Kabocha and Turban. They are each delicious and sweet, though their sweetness varies from variety to variety. They can be cut in half, seeded and baked with butter and sprinkle of nutmeg and pepper for an incredible side dish, or they can be boiled and mashed, chipped and added to a stir fry, deep fried in tempura batter r simply put into a soup. They provide a great creamy base for my Eggless Quiche, and are fabulous in pies, cakes and muffins! The pilgrim fathers scooped out the seeds and filled the cavity with milk butter honey and spice and baked it until tender. We also have filled the cavity with rice pilaf and pine nuts with dried cranberries and currents before baking it. Sliced into 1 inch rounds the Butternut Squash is wonderful when simply brushed with sesame oil and sprinkled with Nutmeg and Cayenne and baked until tender.
Check back often as we add new recipes to these varieties of squash so that you can enjoy what they can offer your vegetarian kitchen.
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