One Sweet Little Squash

I had dinner with friends about a week ago, and among the food served was this fantastic little squash called a "Sweet Dumpling Squash." We all tackled our halves of squash first - and it didn't take us long to make every ounce of squash flesh completely disappear. We were scraping the peels for any left-over squash just to get that taste one last time. Mmm!

Sweet Dumpling Squash. You know, I've definitely never really thought about just how many different types of squash there are. I mean, I grew up knowing about pumpkin and acorn squash. I also had heard of hazelnut squash and butternut squash. But really, there are tons of varieties of squash! (Not to mention all of the varieties that fit into the pumpkin category!)

Curious, I did a little research online. Apparently, there are 4 main species of squash, a plant belonging to the Cucurbita genus in the Cucurbitaceae family (for all you bio-peeps out there): C.maxima (buttercup squash, hubbard squash), C.minima (cushaw squash), C.moschata (butternut squash), and C.pepo (most pumpkins, acorn squash, summer squash, zucchini). [This is all straight from Wikipedia's page on Squash, by the way, in case you're interested.]

Wikipedia lists 5 main varieties of summer squash and 22 main varieties of winter squash. But I also found one site online that lists 150 varieties of squash displayed at "The Great Pumpkin Patch" in Arthur, IL! Go here to see names and pictures. [...um 150 varieties of squash!?!]

Apparently, winter squash is simply a pet name for the thicker-rinded variety of squash that keeps for long periods of time (usually about a month, according to a couple of different food glossaries that I googled). Specifically, winter squash refers to those squashes that could last into December in the cellar, or wherever you choose to store them. Summer squash are vegetables harvested before maturity, and don't keep well for more than a few days. So, they don't actually refer to the time of year that these types of squashes grow.

One other nugget about squashes that I found: "the squash fruit is classified as a pepo by botanists, which is a special type of berry with a thick outer wall or rind..." (Wikipedia, Squash page) [Um, cool - squash is like a berry... I love this stuff!]

Alright, now that you've had your botany lesson for the day, I'll let you know that you can expect a few subsequent posts featuring different varieties of squash I've had a run-in with. I've already posted on Butternut Squash, of course, but there are so many more to try!!!

And so we get back to Sweet Dumpling Squash. And, may I remind you as you get your thoughts back to this little gem of nature, that it's delicious!!! Here's the other thing about this squash: preparation is a snap. Because it's so sweet all on its own, you don't really need to do much to it. Just cook and serve. And I'm all about easy stuff (for all that I say about all of the complex from-scratch recipes I've been dabbling in).

It makes a good side for just about any meal. I teamed it up with some meatballs I made yesterday over a bed of Grandma's Grains drizzled with pureed apples and a side of green beans. So tasty!

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Yum!!! Doesn't that look good enough to eat? (Hint: IT WAS!)

You need enough squash to serve half to each person at your table.

1. Cut each squash in half - I suggest pulling the stem off first, makes it easier to cut through.
2. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff from the middle.
3. Place flesh-side down on a plate with enough water to just cover the bottom of the plate.
4. Microwave 8-10 minutes (I did 8 minutes for 1 half, my friend did 10 for 4 halves).
5. Put a dab of butter and a small amount of brown sugar in the hollowed out center of each squash half, if desired. [But I'm really not kidding when I say you don't even need it...]


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