Sweet dumpling, sugar pumpkin, butternut and buttercup – we wouldn’t blame you for thinking these are a collection of sweet nothings that a couple of starry eyed lovers might whisper to each other, however they’re actually names attributed to just a few of the varieties of winter squash available in the U.S. during the fall/winter season.
At a time of year when the days are darker and crisper than any other season and vibrant summer fruits like berries, corn and tomatoes have taken a rain check, the winter squash family bring a brightness and even a kookiness to the table that is refreshing during these months. We appreciate their curvaceous globular and oblong form and yellow, orange and green thick skins, and the way they add silky caramelised sweetness to winter dishes.
It’s a little known fact that winter squash exists in the same family as cucumbers and watermelon - it’s a bit tough to see the resemblance. For one, winter squash isn’t watery and delicate like its summer-growing cousins. They sport a hard outer shell and meaty yellowish-orange flesh that’s packed with antioxidants—great for fighting off a winter cold.
We roast, puree, saute and mash squash to bring us comfort and warmth at home. These are classic, really delicious ways to cook with them and though guests found squash served like this in December at Maude, we explored just how far we could take them by considering each edible part - its flesh, seeds and oils to the thin skin of the delicata squash (one of the few varieties with palatable skin) – and applied cooking techniques and methods and sourced local, seasonal pairings to draw the very best from December's inspiring hero ingredient.