One of the most familiar squash on the American table; mild in flavor. It's difficult to peel because of its hard, ridged exterior, but it lends itself well to stuffing; cut it in half, then fill the cavity. To bring out it subtle nutty flavor, it's best to bake it with a sprinkling of butter, brown sugar and spices on top.
Australian Blue Squash (Australian Queensland Pumpkin): Shaped like a pumpkin that's been flattened at both ends, this husky squash get its name from its blue-gray-green exterior. It has a mild flavor and a soft texture that is best suited for soups and baked goods.
Exceptionally large, sometimes weighing as much as 40 pounds. It is often sold wrapped in plastic, in pieces weighing a pound or so.
Compared to other members of its family, it may well be the most bland, but it's a good, basic, easy-to-peel squash, with pale pinkish-orange flesh. Leave it in large pieces, or cut it into smaller "steaks" and roast.
Black Forest, Buttercup, Hokkaido (Red Kurd), Honey Delight Squash: All of these moderate-sized varieties, averaging about 5 pounds, are sometimes called Kabocha-type squash. They are prized for their rich, sweet, dense, fine-grained flesh, which is most often a deep orange.
They make flavorful soups, silky pures and exceptional pies. They can also be worked into batters for delicious muffins, waffles, breads and cakes.
A smooth, buckskin-colored squash with a long neck and a bulbous bottom, it tastes good and is readily available; its smooth, thin skin is easily peeled; and its slender neck, which is free of seeds, is simple to cut into pieces. It doesn't have the dramatic sweetness of Buttercup or Honey Delight, but that makes for happier pairings with other foods, among them Fontina cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes.
Grill, roast or use for gratins.
Delicata, Jack-Be-Little, Munchkin Squash: Small and sweet, weighing a little more than a pound, the oblong Delicata is cream-colored with dark green stripes on the outside and deep orange-yellow inside. It is great stuff. Jack-Be-Little and Munchkin are varieties of miniature pumpkins. Thousands of them end up in holiday window displays, but their sweet flesh makes fine eating, and since they are small, they don't take long to cook. These varieties are good if you're cooking for one.
Green Striped Cushaw Squash:
It's a prolific producer on the vine; otherwise there's nothing particularly notable about it. It's fine for baking but doesn't stand too well on its own, but its large seeds make a tasty snack when roasted.
These squash are goofy-looking; blue, orange or green and often covered with wartlike bumps. Large ones weigh 40 pounds or more and are very hard to cut; Baby Blue Hubbards and Golden Hubbards come in the 5-10-pound range. If you find it hard to slice, bake until it has softened, then divide it into pieces. Hubbards have dense, sweet, flavorful flesh are great for stuffing or pureing.
The small orange Sugar Pumpkin or New England Pie Pumpkin has long set the standard for pie pumpkins. although it can be carved, it's sweeter and finer than most jack-o'-lantern types. Some newcomers, such as the ghostly Lumina, come with white skins, but inside you'll find the same familiar orange flesh.
Sweet Dumpling Squash:
Resembles a squat round version of the oblong Delicata, with the same green-striped, cream-colored skin. It has very sweet, tender orange flesh. Hollowed out, it makes an attractive miniature soup container and takes well to stuffing.
Rouge D'Etampes Squash:
This French pumpkin is marvelously curved and luscious to eat, proving you can use a large pumpkin without sacrificing flavor. Of all the pumpkins suitable for cooking, this is the best. It has fine-grained flavorful flesh. Hollow one out and fill it with milk, cream, layers of bread and Gruyre cheese to make a panade, or bread soup, baked in the shell. Or use it in tagines and stews.
This oddball squash breaks all the rules and somehow wins. What we usually want in a squash is flesh that is fine-grained, dense and sweet. Spaghetti squash is just the opposite; stringy and only marginally sweet; it's terrific all the same. Bake it first, then pull the flesh apart with a fork into spaghetti-like strands. Treat it like pasta; sauce with tomato, toss with parsley, garlic and cheese, or serve with a vegetable saut.
Food and Wine
Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 11-07-95
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