Our squashes and pumpkins are all harvested and there are racks of orange, gold and tan cucurbitas curing in the greenhouse. It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that if properly stored and tended, this bounty of good eating; pumpkin pie and cheesecake, savory soups and stews, oh-so-sweet roasted delicata, pasta sauces and ravioli fillings, will last until spring.
Once the curing process is complete and the rinds are hardened, both squash and pumpkin are quite happy in a location that is moderately warm and dry, 50 – 60 degrees F and 60 – 70% relative humidity. When we lived in a much larger house, a vacant, unheated bedroom was the perfect storage spot. Now, we line sheet pans with newspaper and then rows of squashes and slip them under the bed.
For best results, place your fruits in single layers with ample breathing space, and be sure to inspect your treasures frequently. Proper conditions keep respiration and loss through shrinkage to a minimum, and preserve color and quality. You can tell when squashes and pumpkins are on the way out, as the color changes and the texture softens. This is when I get busy in the kitchen, roasting and making batches of puree for the freezer.
My favorite method of cooking squashes and pumpkins is roasting in the oven. No hard rind to crack, and no peeling. Simply makes some vent slits and bake until the fruit slumps. Let cool completely! It is hotter than a hot potato! Peel away the skin, scrape out the seeds and strings, and if desired, puree the flesh until smooth. Enjoy with your favorite recipe.
Curried Squash Soup
- 1 butternut or buttercup squash, peeled and cubed or roasted with the meat removed for about 4 cups packed puree
- 2 large onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock is nice too)
- 2 teaspoons curry powder (more or less to taste)
- dash cumin
- Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup coconut mik
- To prepare, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel and cut into cubes. Or, pierce a whole squash with some vent holes and cook the squash on a sheet pan in a 350-degree oven until it is fork tender and slumps. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the skin from the flesh and remove the seeds.
- In a heavy soup pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil until transparent. Stir in the curry powder and cook briefly. Add the stock, squash and bay leaf. Increase the heat and simmer until the squash is tender. At this point, you may choose to puree the soup with an immersion blender or a food processor, or leave it slightly chunky.
- Add the coconut milk and taste the soup. Adjust the seasonings with a dash of cumin, sea salt and fresh pepper, and more curry powder if desired. Serve garnished with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.