This year, we grew a kind of winter squash which has only one thing to recommend it: size. I couldn’t tell you the name of the variety; we’ve been calling it Sasquash so long that we’ve forgotten its real name.
Sasquash is bland, it is watery, and it is very, very large. Together, the five squashes weighed over 100 pounds. The biggest one was 40 all by itself.
So, after I got over the novelty of having grown a 40-pound squash, I was left with the problem of what to do with 40 pounds of bland, watery squash. As my brothers and I used to say to each other when we were kids, with undisguised schadenfreude glee, “That’s what you get for being greedy!”
I learned a lesson when I dealt with the last giant squash, which rolled in at a mere fifteen pounds: the cost of the propane required to roast it until it browned and shrunk to something with flavor could have bought fifteen pounds of standard-issue butternut squash. So I wanted to try something different.
Although the Sasquash is bland and watery, it does have the virtue of being crisp. It’s more like a cucumber than a squash – not surprising, since they’re both in family Cucurbitaceae – so I figured I’d treat it like a cucumber and pickle it.
I used a recipe from my friend Christl (fitting, since she was also the source of the Sasquash seeds, although she didn’t plant them herself because she wasn’t interested in dealing with 100 pounds of bland, watery squash). It’s a brine flavored with turmeric and dill seed, and I made a trial batch of the refrigerated kind, to see if I liked it enough to break out the canning equipment.
I liked it, but not enough. Back to the drawing board.
Since it’s finally gotten cold out, we’re using our wood stove pretty regularly, and that’s what I turned to next. I cubed a couple pounds of squash, spread it out on a baking sheet, and left it on top of the stove. Sure enough, it did the trick! Over the course of a few hours (more or less, depending on how hot the stove is), cubes of Sasquash reduce to about ten percent of their volume (literally). They even brown a little bit.
As an added bonus, they humidify the house. They even smell nice.
Last night, I turned that bland, watery squash into a soup I’d go so far as to call excellent. I started with bacon, and added onion and sage. A little white wine, a lot of good stock (turkey), and a bunch of that roasted, reduced squash, simmered. Then pureed, with cream.
Despite a mishap with the VitaMix that left squash soup on every surface in my kitchen, and my hand burned just enough to remind me to secure the lid next time, we had a lovely dinner.
But I won’t be growing this squash again next year.