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Serious Squash Eats

Updated: Oct 15, 2017

Fall is certainly in the air and that means that some of my favorite foods are available! Here in Bend, when you walk into any grocery store, you are likely to see a huge bin of squash. This huge bin can be a bit intimidating if you aren't familiar with the squash inside. I LOVE SQUASH! There are so many things you can do with it and such a huge variety of flavors and textures. When I walked into the store and saw this bin, I couldn't help but buy several. Today I am going to compare 3 types of squash side by side to hopefully help you start navigating this beautiful bin yourself. I'll do my best to help you determine which you like, but I have to admit I am a little biased because my absolute favorite is the Blue Hubbard. I get very excited each year when I see that they are available, and have had multiple students bring me some that they grew. I have created many Blue Hubbard lovers out there.

Here I have 3 different types of squash. The one on the left is (my favorite!) Baby Blue Hubbard Squash. The middle a Carnival Squash. The one on the right is a Kabocha Squash. All 3 were grown in Oregon and found at my local grocery store. First I'd like you to notice the different skin colors. Aren't they beautiful?

Here's all 3 with their tops cut off. Even more beautiful! Both the Blue Hubbard and the Kabocha have a dark orange flesh, and the Carnival has more of a yellow flesh, that gets darker on the outer rim.

I cut the skins off of all 3. I have found that it is easiest to use a serrated bread knife for this because it dulls a chef knife pretty quickly. Then, I cut each one in half so you could see the insides.

Here is the Blue Hubbard inside. When working with the Baby Blue Hubbard, it almost has a meaty feel. Anywhere you touch takes on a darker color-that is the beautiful natural sugars at work.

Here is the Carnival. Note that it is much lighter and more yellow than the Blue Hubbard. The inner flesh around the seeds is stringier. There is also no variation in color from touching it.

And last but certainly not least is the Kabocha. The color is similar to the Blue Hubbard but it is not as "meaty" looking and is even stringier than the Carnival.

I took the seeds out of each. The easiest way is to take a spoon and scrape them out, making sure to scrape any stringy parts as well. Don't throw the seeds away! They are great roasted with a variety of seasonings.

Next, I cut each one into bite sized pieces, tossed them in enough grape seed oil to coat them, and added salt and pepper. I roasted them in a 375 degree oven until they were fork-tender. For me this took about 15 minutes but it depends on how large your pieces are.

Here's what they look like after roasting. Still beautiful. Now it is time for the amazing taste test!

First, let me talk about the texture. The best description that I can come up with for the texture of the Blue Hubbard is that it is meaty and velvety. The Carnival (top) is similar in texture to yellow summer squash but a little bit denser. The Kabocha is velvety but not quite as meaty as the Blue Hubbard.

The taste and flavor of all 3 are great. I think you know my favorite by now but each has a distinct flavor and each would have a great purpose, IN MY BELLY.

The flavor of the blue Hubbard is unique. It has a mild sweetness, similar to a pumpkin. It is rich and has a nutty flavor. This nutty flavor is amazing and is kind of a cross between walnuts and almonds but accompanied by the pumpkin type flavor and it has a sweet/savory thing going for it.

The flavor of the Carnival is actually quite sweet. Instead of a pumpkin type flavor it is more like a summer squash but sweeter. It has a lemony undertone in its flavor.

The flavor of the Kabocha has a mild sweetness, similar to that of the Blue Hubbard. It also has the pumpkin-type flavor. The flavor is significantly milder than the Blue Hubbard and instead of the nutty flavor it has a peppery undertone.

Now at this point you may be wondering what to do with these beautiful squash.

  • Any of the 3 would be great served as a side as-is. I love roasted squash with some sauteed onions and a little blue cheese tossed in.

  • They would all be great in risotto (in my next post I will show you how to make risotto with them)

  • They would be great turned into a soup (maybe another post because I now have way too much to add to my risotto)

  • Each would be great added to a pasta dish. Maybe pasta, sausage and squash with a brown butter and sage sauce. Nuts would be a great addition if using the Blue Hubbard

  • You could also turn them into a filling for ravioli

  • I have used them in many ways and honestly it would be hard to find something that doesn't taste good.

While they are all versatile, they do have different flavor profiles so I'll recommend different combinations for each.

  • The Blue Hubbard has that nutty thing going for it so I tend to add flavors that compliment it. It goes very well with cream and creamy type dishes (risotto.) I usually add caramelized onions and spices like Cardamon, Cinnamon, nutmeg, or sage. It also goes very well with Parmesan cheese. Adding roasted nuts to any dish will help bring out the nutty flavor as will salt. It pairs very well with oak-aged Chardonnay.

  • Carnival has a very different flavor profile so I would treat it differently. This goes very well with brighter flavors like ginger, cardamon, lemongrass, and citrus. To me this would go well in a coconut milk based curry to provide some sweetness to balance out the spiciness. I would pair this with a lighter wine like a dry Riesling.

  • The Kabocha mild but has that peppery undertone that calls for more savory applications. It goes very well with sausage, cumin, sage, thyme, onions (maybe not caramelized) This would be the squash that I would choose for the pasta dish that I mentioned above. It would pair well with a steel aged Chardonnay or even a lighter Pinot Noir.

Please don't take my word for it, get out there and try these beautiful squash. Please leave a comment and let me know what YOU made, and how it turned out.

#goodfood #fallharvest #Squash #cookingathome #ingredients

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