One thing I haven’t really gotten to talking about on this blog is food and cooking. I love to eat, which eventually led me to cooking so I could eat more of the things I love (which usually involves pasta – though I try to keep it under control *burp*). Since moving to Tucson, I’ve been expanding my repertoire to include lots of things grown on local farms that I may not have experienced in the Florida suburbia of the 70’s. I belonged to the local CSA for a while and got to know even more about exotic edibles like nopales, mizuna greens and local tepary beans (yum!) I was really amazed at the variety that this collective of farms provided and only stopped because for now even that once a week pickup was too much commitment (although I just took a look at the current harvest and think it’s time to get back on it!)
Thankfully I’m not out of the loop completely – my friend, Molly (who among many other things writes the delicious blog pie for breakfast that I highly recommend), gifted me one half of a giant Kabocha squash.
CSAs are great for teaching you to roll with what life gives you. It’s also a lesson in dealing with abundance! So when Molly got a giant, Japanese winter squash that was almost 10 pounds, she went the time-honored route of passing on the excess. I’ve never tried Kabocha squash put absolutely wanted to give it a go. And when you check the Wikipedia link, you see a cute round green pumpkin-like lil’ critter. Awwww! But when I showed up at her house and walked out schlepping a giant punch bowl with both arms, I had second thoughts. But after tucking it under the seat belt and taking a deep breath or two, I just switched to a CSA frame of mind, saved the big baby for an upcoming uneventful Sunday and went to town.
Oh, just so you really get the scale of what we’re talking about, here’s one view of the squash, held by my handsome assistant, Jamie:
And here’s the open half – looks like a diorama of a subterranean city on Mars – or some peachy, fleshy geode:
So once I’d cleared the space and made sure the big knife was cleaned and sharpened, I attacked the poor thing. If I was more of a photographer, I would have captured the gore and mayhem. Suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty. BUT I felt like I’d brought home the fatted calf!
Here’s what I ended up doing:
- Scooped out the pulp and seeds but saved them for later (you’ll see).
- Cut the half in half.
- With the first half, I cut it into wedges and roasted it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour – no olive oil or seasonings, just pure squash, which I then mashed up with a potato masher and pureed in a blender (because I have no food processor *sniff*). It wasn’t as smooth as I’d like but it’ll do. I stored the amber goop in a freezer bag for a future Thanksgiving dish!
- With the second half, I cut it into 2-inch dice and used half of that half (oof, tricky to manage all these halves – good thing I won’t be talking about half-and-half or we’ll REALLY be confused) in a winter squash soup I made that night with local golden potatoes, rosemary and cream – delish!
- I popped the rest of the diced squash into another freezer bag for another rainy soup day.
- THEN I washed the seeds from the pulp, toweled them off and let them dry over night on a baking sheet. The next day, I salted, peppered and roasted the lil buggers for an hour in a 250 degree oven.
So far the only bits we’ve eaten were the soup and the seeds. The soup tasted delicious, not too sweet – it’s a milder, more neutral flavor, probably because it’s so damn big. I believe smaller Kobucha has more sweetness in it. But we prefer more savory dishes so it served as a great backdrop to the rosemary and cream I’d used.
The seeds were good too but in a bizarre way: they tasted like leftover popcorn kernels that are cooked just enough to gnaw on. Now for me and Jamie that’s a GOOD thing – and probably another side effect of how big the monster was. So your mileage may vary – but we enjoyed ’em.
Now I’ve just got to come up with a couple more dishes that will feature this strange new squash in my life! What would you try them in?