For the next few months, there will be a bunch of squash on my kitchen table. It’s the same story every year, in part because the Curvaceous Tribe is gorgeous – give me a bunch of busty squash every day in all shades of green, vermilion, and yellow on a bunch of imported flowers. But it is also because they are a fantastic watch.
A good specimen without bruising, broken skin or soft spots, will last for weeks, and I find it reassuring that even on a day when work has held me back at my desk, there is still the base for dining at home.
And more than any other vegetable, squash can take center stage on the plate. This is partly because of the masterful size and striking color, but also because of the rich sweet flavor and dense texture of many varieties.
The range of varieties available – up to a dozen in a good farm shop or greengrocer – is a fairly new phenomenon. Thirty years ago, butternut squash was still exotic, and Jane Grigson’s vegetable book, published in 1978, has chapters on rarities like hop shoots and Hamburg parsley, as well as spaghetti squash with vegetables, marrow and pumpkin, but no butternut.
Nowadays, you can buy teardrop-shaped onion squash and pointy acorn squash, as well as weirdly domed turbans and smoky green-blue crown princes, each with different flavors and textures. Most are grown here, and even Butternut – which in the past needed a Mediterranean climate to develop its lush sweetness – now comes in modern varieties that are doing well in the UK.
You will however have to look beyond the supermarket for this bonus. This butternut squash, but usually imported, is the only squash you’ll reliably find in one of the Big Four. The exception is online giant Ocado, which is teaming up with chic fruit and vegetable supplier Natoora to deliver an inspiring range including the much-loved Italian Delica.
For most of us, the best bet is to go to independents, greengrocers, food stores and markets, where they are often stacked outside for the same reason I keep them on my doorstep. table – because they last well and look good. None of them would be worth anything if they weren’t so delicious, which they are of course, each in their own way.
Squash, pumpkin or squash?
All are part of the cucurbits family, but squash has very little flesh and is usually not eaten. Winter squash have a tough skin and generally store well, and include pumpkins and butternut squash. Summer squash have tender skin and include pastry squash, zucchini, and squash.
Best varieties of squash
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This notice was published: 2021-10-29 12:41:51