Kabocha, Coquina, Butternut, Onion, Harlequin, Prince, Spaghetti: squashes come in all shapes, colours and sizes, which means there really is a squash out there for everyone – whatever the kids say…
Try a few and see which one is your favourite, from the soft and mellow butternut, to the dense and ‘chestnutty’ Kabocha, my favourite; although a baked Prince is difficult to beat. Mind you, Harlequin is so fragrant; and come to think of it, if it’s a soup, Onion squash has to be the best…I just love them all.
Apart from the true pumpkin that is. That’s because when I was little, my great aunt used to cook pumpkin soup on an industrial scale by placing a cooker in every room of her house (no kidding: hallway, lounge, bedroom…). The result was that when you came to visit, you would be bold over by the overwhelming smell of boiling pumpkin and milk as soon as you opened the front door; yikes! Well, for me anyway. She, seemed to like it. As a result, I do not use pumpkin much, apart from the tinned version which I find very useful to make cakes and pancakes.
I have to say though, the tin doesn’t look anything as good in the kitchen as the fresh version of these truly magnificent vegetables. Sitting on my window sill or in a wicker basket before their inevitable fate, they announce Autumn with pride, cheering us into the season of plenty, particularly if the sky is a little grey.
They can look a little intimidating with their thick skin but it is only a front as they have a very soft heart. The easiest way to handle them is just to let them get on with it in the oven – wash them and bake them in their own skin in a hot oven at 180°C until soft inside – you can then do whatever you wish with the flesh.
They are so accommodating that they can be used to make just about any dish, from savoury dishes such as gnocchi, stuffed vegetables or soup; to sweet ones like pancakes, pies and muffins. That’s why there are so many recipes for them out there. Here are a few of my favourites. I hope you enjoy them too.