Squash

Squash

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

The American name for certain members of the gourd family. In Australia it is usually applied to the creamy or golden pie-shaped variety called custard squash, to their tiny, bright green relations called patty pan or button squash, and to the yellow crook-necked squash which is rather like a large zucchini (courgette). All these squashes are thin-skinned, with juicy flesh, and should be eaten when they are young and tender.

Butternut squash (also called butternut pumpkin) and acorn squash have harder rinds and firm, dryish flesh; in Australian terms, this brings them into the category of pumpkins rather than squash. For preparation and cooking see Pumpkin.

When buying squash, look for small, firm, unblemished ones whose skins have a sheen. Store in the refrigerator crisper and use within 1–2 days.

Basic preparation: Wash the squash and lightly trim the stem end and, if necessary, any little brown mark at the other end. Leave whole, halve or slice according to the recipe. Peel large custard squash thinly; young ones should not need this.

Squashes beyond the baby stage may have developed slightly bitter juices; to remove this, ‘dégorge’ (see Eggplant) by sprinkling salt on cut surfaces and leaving in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Rinse under cold running water and dry before using.

To cook: Squash may be boiled, steamed or sautéed.

Boiled squash: For firm-tender, brilliant green patty pan squash, drop them into a generous amount of fast-boiling salted water and boil for 4–8 minutes, depending on size. Drain in a colander and run cold water over squash to stop cooking and set the colour. Reheat gently in butter when required, and season with pepper and lemon juice.

Steamed squash: This is a good way to cook custard or crook-necked squash. Leave whole or cut up. Cook, tightly covered, in about 1 cm of salted water, or in a steamer over boiling water, until tender. Time will depend on size of squash pieces. Serve with butter, pepper and lemon juice, or a sauce such as Mornay, Poulette or Fresh Tomato.

Sautéed squash: Slice thickly and dégorge as described on p. 718. Heat enough butter to cover the bottom of a frying pan generously, and when foaming add squash. Cook, stirring and tossing frequently, for 3–4 minutes or until just tender.

Ways to serve squash:

Add shredded spring onions (scallions) to sautéed squash.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs, or dried herbs with chopped parsley, before serving.

Add fresh breadcrumbs (about 60 g to 500 g squash) as you sauté the squash.

Sprinkle with grated cheese or crumbled crisply fried bacon before serving.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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