I have had a wonderful crop of winter squash this year. They were slow to start with loads of flowers ( Turkoman Squash flowers are perfumed!) but no fruit til July, then each plant set one fruit. Crown and Turkoman squash grew well, but I don’t succeed with Butternut. The trick is good moist and warm soil – a compost heap is ideal ( a friend had huge plants and several fruits per plant on hers), but I did well in well manured soil and plenty of watering.
So what to do with them?
1. Use them in any recipe for Butternut Squash ( soup, with chicken and chorizo, risotto, stir fry, in cakes etc)
2. Turkoman Squash with Ratatouille makes an impressive and colourful centre piece when cooked whole and filled with Ratatouille. To cook, remove the top, scoop out the seeds, add a knob of butter to the hollow and replace the top. Cook at 180′ in the oven for about an hour. I then fill with Ratatouille and serve slices with extra sauce on the side. (tip..if you roast the ratatouille ingredients then cook up in a pan with chopped tomato the result is incredibly rich and succulent)
3. My favourite is Roasted Squash with Feta Cheese. Use any variety ( or indeed pumpkin). Cut into slices and scoop out seeds, lay on an oiled tray (or tinfoil). Make an oil and garlic dressing with salt and pepper and brush onto the squash. Sprinkle with chopped Rosemary or Sage. Roast 25 mins at 180′. Add crumbled Feta Cheese and cook 15mins more until melted and lightly browned. Serve with green beans, green leafy veg, roasted mediterranean vegetables or as an accompaniment to any dish.
4. Squash and Feta tarts. Make small tart cases and blind bake for 15 mins. Add cooked chopped squash which has been mixed with crumbled feta and a little chopped or dried sage. Add a spoon of mixture to fill tart cases, sprinkle with black pepper or paprika and bake a further 15-20 mins until golden.
If you did not grow your own you may be able to get winter squash at Handley Organics and Cary Organics market stall (Saturday) in Ledbury, The Nest on the Hereford Road or Over Farm Market on the Newent road just outside Gloucester. This farm grows an abundance of all kinds of squash and has a colourful display in the car park. It is where I discovered the joys of all the different varieties and is worth a visit if you want to buy a supply for the winter.