Today in preparation for dinner guests and the big pie fest later this week, I roasted some cucurbita pepo, aka pumpkins, and a butternut squash. I grew more of both this year than I can probably use, and both are space hogs, thus I need to make a decision about what to grow next year. To help decide, I tested a small, barely ripe butternut squash, a Small Sugar (aka New England Pie) pumpkin, and a beautiful Winter Luxury pumpkin with its unusual russeted skin.
The pumpkins were similar in size, and the squash much smaller. When sliced in half, the pumpkins each, as expected, had large seed cavities with lots of seeds; the butternut had a small cavity with fewer seeds than I would have expected.
After cleaning out the seeds, I oiled the cut edges and a pan and placed the squash cut side down on the pan, and roasted them in a moderate oven for about an hour. About 15 minutes before they were done, I added a bit of water to the pan as the oil was browning and the sugary juices were scorching. The little bit of water was enough to keep the squash from burning onto the pan.
I let the squash cool, the scooped them out from the flesh. This method to my mind is 1000 times easier than peeling the squash, I can’t imagine doing this any other way. The flesh was tender and barely moist, not at all stringy, and slipped easily from the peel. The butternut squash peel was thinner and more fragile so was slightly more difficult to remove without getting any peel, but all in all, a piece of cake.
Dan, my friend Susanna, and I all tasted them, and we all agreed. The butternut was delicious, smooth, rich and sweet with a nice deep flavor, even though it was very slightly underripe, and was the lightest in color, a pale orange. The New England Pie pumpkin had a very similar flavor to the butternut, a deep smooth rich flavor, but with less sweetness. It was a gorgeous deep orange shade, the darkest in color of the three, and although when scooping the cooked flesh from the skin it looked stringy, was not at all stringy. The Winter Luxury, although lovely to behold, was the least flavorful of the three. By itself it might be ok, but in comparison, was clearly the runner up, and thus, today was voted off the island. So long, Winter Luxury, it was good to know you.
After the taste test, I made Chile Cheddar Pumpkin Souffles for dinner, with White Chili with Chicken and Corn Bread. Yum.