Author: Mariah Gruner

Summer and Winter Squash

Anyone who has seen our garden recently has also seen a whole mess of squash. Our plants are running wild! and I’ve been feasting on the outcome. We seem to have many varieties of squash (one which was identified as Costata Romanesca squash by Suzanne in a previous post) and I’ve been pretty mystified by lots of them. Though I can’t identify all of them, I do have a pretty surefire system for dividing them into two groups- summer and winter squash- which should dictate the way to cook them!

I visited my grandfather, a seasoned gardener, last weekend in Connecticut and picked his brain for information on the difference between summer and winter squash. I’d been kind of baffled by the names, because 1) it’s summer and 2) we clearly have both summer and winter squash in the garden. Turns out, the name has nothing to do with when the squash is grown- it has to do with whether it can be stored.

The main distinction is that summer squash have soft, edible rinds and should be eaten when the squash is still immature (this group includes the Costata Romanesca squash and other familiar faces like zucchini and yellow squash). The winter squash, on the other hand, takes its time to mature (usually 70-120 days after planting) and has a hard, inedible rind and hard seeds (so, you’ve got your pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, kabocha, delicata, etc). It can be stored for a while after harvesting, while summer squash should really be eaten soon after it’s picked.

So, if you can pierce the squash’s rind with your thumbnail, it’s a summer squash and you can eat the whole thing (and soon)! I recommend slicing them into stir-fry, grilling, and even grating into baked goods. If you’ve got a winter squash on your hands, you’ve got some time to try and figure out what recipe you want to try. You can peel the rind and cut up the flesh and roast the pieces or roast the whole thing (I recommend pricking it several times for ventilation and putting it in the oven at 350 for about an hour, depending on its size). You can then scoop the flesh out (it’ll be nice and soft) and use it in almost anything- mixed with potatoes in a puree, added to soups, on it’s own with some brown sugar and cinnamon (that’s especially good on butternut squash), the options are pretty endless!

So, go forth and harvest our ridiculous amounts of squash! I might not know their names, but they’re all going to taste delicious.

Post-Workday Eats

After an afternoon of moving dirt and cinder blocks for the new shed, I picked some collard greens from the garden for a dinner treat. Greens in hand, I headed home to dream up something delicious.

Pretty successful...

I’d made a batch of cashew cheese that morning, so I decided to make pizza. My farmer’s market hauls this week resulted in beets and asparagus, which seemed like excellent topping choices to me. The cashew cheese was pretty simple. I let 1 1/2 cups of raw, unsalted cashews soak in salted water for about 18 hours (overnight) and then I drained them and tossed them into the blender with 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tbl of nutritional yeast, 6 tbl of water, a little lemon zest, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. That went into the fridge to set for a while and I made pizza dough!

Pizza Dough

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the yeast into the warm water and then combine that mixture with the flour, olive oil, and salt. Stir gently. Form into a ball and then set aside to rise for an hour (covered in plastic wrap, in a warm place).

While the pizza dough rose, I sliced up a large beet and stemmed some asparagus and tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. I roasted those on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes at 350.

After an hour, I took the pizza dough out of its bowl and gently stretched it onto a greased cookie sheet. I set the oven at 525 as I topped the dough with hot sauce, a bit of cashew cheese, the sliced beets and asparagus, and thinly sliced ribbons of collard greens. I turned the oven up to 550 and put the pizza in for about 10-12 minutes.

Spicy and sweet.

The collard greens got perfectly crisp!

A pretty perfect end to a satisfying work day. The toppings were nice and crisp, but the cashew cheese kept the crust from drying out. I have about a handful of collard greens left and I’ll be trying to figure out some use for them tomorrow (as wraps for faux sushi? just on sandwich? sauteed in garlic?). As the summer goes on, I’m sure we’ll be coming up with more delicious concoctions from the garden and sharing them!