Monday, August 3, 2009
A Tale of Three Squashes
I made a beautiful squash medley tonight. I even took this photo of it to share with you. My first bites were oh so scrumptious. You see, my sweet mother had given me her only squash that her acorn squash plant produced this year. She knows how I love winter squash...but gee, it is August here, and 100 degrees outside. Somehow, the roasting with bacon and syrup idea just didn't seem to fit.
So, I sliced it and removed the tough skin. I hated loosing that pretty scalloped shape, but it had to be done if this was going in a skillet. I put the still attractive half circles into the skillet with some olive oil. While they were tenderizing, I sliced the yellow crookneck squash and the remains of a leftover zucchini. After checking to see that the acorn squash was fairly tender, I added the summer squashes and a little red bell pepper for color. My aim was to really be able to let the taste of the vegetables come through--no garlic or onion. Just a bit of salt. I was careful not to over brown, as I am prone to doing that while I am prepping other dishes. The medley looked perfect. I sample while cooking, and the acorn squash was fantastic!
I plated our food; tonight's Multiply Meals Tuna Alfredo was a rich and creamy no fuss entree. My first few bites of the squash medley were delightful. The crookneck squash was still slightly crisp and very mild. The acorn squash had a totally different texture--grainier and earthy. I loved it. Then I got a bite with the zucchini. Aaargh. Bitter.
A little internet research led me to find an enormous amount of information on poisonous bitter squash. It seems some plants can get crossed with wilder cousins and produce substances called "cucurbitacins". Now from my understanding, these should be so bad that we would have spewed the squash across the room upon tasting. It wasn't that bad, so I assume we need not call the poison control center. Just in case, I picked out all the offending zucchini. The rest is still quite yummy.
From my research, I learn that some squash may just be slightly bitter naturally. Some may get that way after growing too big. Some may be bitter if they are too old. I suspect that may be my problem. This was a leftover zucchini, and we had not noticed any odd flavor when I used some last week. From now on, I think I will be more careful to use up an entire squash in one setting. I will buy smaller ones if possible, and I will taste a bite before I cook.
But in the mean time, I certainly wish my mom still had some more acorn squash. Even cooked with a light saute, they are delicious. Thanks, mom. My two squash plants in my container garden are big beautiful plants, but are failing to produce any fruit. My summer bounty is not materializing. I have a multitude of male blossoms, but very few female blossoms. And yes, I have resorted to early morning squash hanky panky trying to help them along. Still no production. My plant seemed insulted, and now is producing only male blossoms. I have taken to calling it my monastery squash. Any advice?