Monday, March 10, 2008

Squash Week

I love this picture because it means that someone, somewhere saw the artfulness of lovingly placing squash in front of a beach scene. A friendly vegetable gesture if ever there was one. But do these gourds deserve the pampering? After squash week, I must heartily accede that they do.

Squash week began with the harried purchasing of every kind of squash I could get my hands on, which, in my neighborhood Krogers, meant: butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and acorn squash. I'll admit, I passed on buying a zucchini, but that was an oversight I corrected later in the week. Even buying squash is kind of fun; they're just so large and comical. And then after having a squash tower in my fruit bowl for a few days, I seriously considered making them some sort of cornucopia to dramatically spill forth from. They're just so friendly, squash are.

But even on a blog that shamelessly anthropomorphizes vegetables, I feel I should leave the friendliness quality for a moment, and focus on taste. There's much do be done with squash. I began the squash journey with the spaghetti squash because I was endlessly intrigued after a friend told me it could be used as a substitute for actual pasta. I am a pasta lover to the core, and was unsure as to how what appeared to be an unremarkable squash could possibly transform into noodles. And yet, lo and behold, it did. Once plied lengthwise with a fork, the squash meat took the shape of a mid-size pasta (perhaps linguini, with spaghetti being a bit of a misnomer). So excited I was by the illusion, that I even ate it with pasta sauce. On tasting, the illusion was somewhat shattered as the consistency was not like pasta. This may have something to do with under-cooking the squash (and I've noticed under-cooking things seems to be a theme on this blog), or it may have to do with the fact that I was eating squash and expecting it to taste exactly like gluten. Nevertheless, I'd eat spaghetti squash again just for the fun of scraping pasta from the hull of a gourd.

Next, I tackled my friend the acorn squash. The easiest thing to do was to soup that sucker. I found a recipe online for a sweet soup with apples and acorn squash. It sort of reminded me of a pie filling, but it did give me a chance to use nutmeg, which I fear has become the most underused spice on my rack. It was tasty, but I think I just find sweet soups disorienting. That's why when I turned to the butternut squash, I chose to make a savory soup. Actually, it would be more fair to say "my mother" chose to make a savory soup. I'm visiting my parents this week, and my mother (a proud supporter of vegetablesarefriends) was kind enough to make me soup from her own, long-standing squash soup recipe. But then, perhaps that's the only action you can take when someone brings you a butternut squash via an eight-hour drive.

The remainder of the butternut that was un-souped, I put some butter and sugar on. This has been suggested to me by numerous sources, and even the sticker on the butternut squash advised on how it could be done. Vegetables themselves do not usually come with recipes attached, so I felt this was worth attending to. It tasted a lot more like eating butter and sugar and a lot less like eating vegetables, which presumably is the point.

My final squash encounter was out to dinner. I had some fried zucchini at an Italian restaurant, and it was absolutely delicious. I really need to eat vegetables out more often, because they can do things that I just plain can't with my limited cooking space and ability. Plus if I were to make fried zucchini on my own, I would once again be confronted with the dilemma of whether or not eating vegetables is still a healthful practice when they are breaded and fried in oil. This seems to be a controversy that surfaces often on this site. Perhaps controversy is the wrong word, but I do manage to be continually surprised by what is no doubt painfully obvious to well-established eaters of vegetables: vegetables, like all things, taste better when made with fats. Not much of an epiphany, but good enough for vegetablesarefriends.

Next week (at my mother's suggestion): mushrooms!


Susan Thompson said...

"Vegetables, like all things, taste better when made with fats."

We're all assuming the vitamins and fiber cancel out the fats. People who can eat a big pile of spinach with just some vinegar are truly to be envied.

Glad you enjoyed squash week. I find them a little scary to cut open when the rind is thick.

Mushrooms: On pizza, in omelets. Sauteed. In stir fry.

Susan T.

Creepy Stalker said...

Mushrooms? I hope you realize that they're not a vegetable.

-Creepy Stalker

Alexa said...

i find it ironic that the vegetable you have taken to most easily is the one vegetable that i don't really care for. unless you're counting bitter melon, which really just shouldn't be a food in the first place.

but i do love spaghetti squash, and butternut squash soup is good too, and fried anything is good, you're right. okay so everything you made i also like.

i guess i just don't like badly steamed/boiled squash. i think that goes for most vegetables, but squash in particular.

maybe i'm just trying to say badly cooked food is bad.

Cody said...

Creepy stalker, while it is true that mushrooms belong to the kingdom fungi, surely you realize you're comparing apples and oranges (or, in this case, taxonomic schemes and traditional culinary designations)?

Now, the moment our good host decides to try, say, canistel or mamey sapote, then your objections might be heard.

Baryka said...

Susan, I didn't know you didn't like mushrooms! :) Well, unlike other vegetable-eaters, I still insist that vegetables are better raw :) (not all of them, of course, but most... :)) Good luck with mushrooms! (I'm so sorry you didn't have the chance to try my mom's mushroom soup when you were visiting. It's the most delicious thing ever! Next time, I promise, I'll ask her to cook it for you! :))