Friday, October 30, 2009

Cooking with Pumpkin & Squash

I never cook with pumpkins or squashes.  I think this has something to do with the impenetrable nature of this vegetable.  I have never been able to figure out how to get into it.  What type of tool would one use to smash through to the meat inside?  Would an axe work?

After reading through the equivalent of a large book of pumpkin recipes in the last week, I decided I wanted to try a few of them, and since canned pumpkin is unheard of here, it was now necessary to figure out how to crack through this rock-like shell to the golden meat within.

I began by calling in help. I have watched the local men use their razor-sharp machetes for a huge variety of jobs ... from mowing the lawn to cutting down trees ... surely this method would work for a basic squash. Don Pablo was happy to show me how to do this job. I expected him to draw back his "cutlass" and smash it with unerring accuracy into the top of the squash, separating it immediately into two equal parts. However, I was completely wrong. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself. He DID use his machete ...

but WITH a hammer!!  He placed the machete in the middle of the squash and with a few light taps of the hammer ... voila!  Now why didn't I think of that?

The machete cut down through that squash as if it were butter ...

leaving me with two more or less equal parts and bringing me to the next stage of squash prep ... removing the green slimy stringy mass of seeds.

I scraped and cleaned the seeds out of the middle, gave half of them to Don Pablo for planting in his garden, and saved the other half to plant in my own garden.  I couldn't get any more of the green slimy strings out, but I figured that they might be easier to remove once the squash was cooked.

I didn't get any photos of the last stage, but I rubbed olive oil all over the inside, and baked both halves, open side up, at about 350' for about 2 hours.  The green strings cooked into the yellow squash, so it was impossible to separate them once cooked ... however ... I discovered that it didn't matter.  I used 1 cup of the squash for my first pumpkin recipe, and it was excellent.

I ended up with about 5 cups of squash ... stay tuned as we cook it up in a variety of sweet and savory dishes!


If the green strings bother you, you could try a metal ice cream scoop or a large spoon or something like that. Make sure you use something that is strong enough that you won't break it.

What kind of squash is that? I've never seen one with green inside (though admittedly, I haven't seen all that many squash)

Great idea to use an ice cream scoop ... I will definitely do that the next time!

I have no idea what kind of squash it is ... my long-time aversion to cooking with squash has not been conducive to learning much about them.

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