Variations on a Squash

I've had this Black Futsu squash since Thanksgiving. It was one of the many vegetables gifted to me during my trip to Portland over the holiday weekend - thanks again Bill!

It made the cross-country trip with me a few weeks ago, and has proved to be a very hardy squash indeed. I also brought a Long Island Cheese squash that didn't fare so well. I left them both in the car overnight in freezing cold temperatures and the Long Island Cheese was badly frost damaged by the time I arrived in Madison. It had big squishy spots and was obviously no good for eating. This Black Futsu on the other hand came through like a champ! It suffered through the same cold temperatures, but was still intact at the end of the trip. It was a little soft, but definitely still edible.

Since this squash seemed to be a survivor, and I knew it would be quite tasty, I decided to save the seeds to plant in the spring. I'm not sure where I'll have space to garden this summer, but I'll figure something out. There's a lot of community gardens around here....

You can see a lighter yellow band around the outside - I think that's a little bit of frost damage, but it smelled fine so I decided to go ahead and cook it.

I rubbed it inside and out with olive oil, put the halves face down in a baking dish, and roasted it at 425 for a half hour. Small squashes like this don't take too long to cook, which is nice.

While the squash was baking, I prepared the kale. This is Lacinato kale I bought at the Yahara Co-op in Stoughton, but it's originally from California. It's organic, but it's from Pure-Veg, a label that I don't trust to have good labor practices....oh well, we can't all be perfect. There's something very satisfying about a dark green kale like this - it's hard for me to resist.

I cooked it simply in olive oil in the cast iron skillet, adding a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar at the end.

The squash was nice and soft after just a half hour of roasting.

I stuffed it with the kale, drizzled a little more olive oil on top, and sprinkled it all liberally with grated Romano cheese. Sometimes it feels so good to have such a pure, healthy meal....

I'm home alone this week, so I still had another squash half in the fridge to eat the next day. I decided to try a variation on the stuffed squash theme, this time with ground lamb.

I started by sauteing a (local) red onion in a little bit of olive oil in the cast iron skillet.

When the onions had started to get limp, I added some local ground lamb from the Yahara Co-op and a little bit of powdered thyme. (I've never cooked with powdered thyme, but my brother had some in the house, and I'm beginning to really like it.)

When the meat was nicely browned and the onions were translucent, I took the squash half out of the fridge, stuffed as much of the lamb/onion mixture in as I could, and topped it off with some grated (local) Monterrey Jack. It went in a hot oven (425) for just about 15 or 20 minutes.

While the squash was cooking, I made this beautiful local cabbage salad with the last of the Pure Veg Kale. I dressed it simply with balsamic and olive oil. This is definitely a chewy salad, but I kind of enjoy the texture. It's quite hearty, and a good workout for the jaw muscles!

Here's the squash right out of the oven. On a whim, I ate it with some homemade yogurt I had made earlier on the week, and I sprinkled a little more of the powdered thyme on to make it pretty. It made a great tangy sauce and complemented the other flavors really well!
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  1. Hi Megan,

    I was just looking for information about Black Futsu squash as I live in Tokyo now, and our American pumpkin seeds seemed nonplussed with the weather here. How big was the Black Futsu? About like a Delicata? Did you have any luck growing them from seed? I'm curious to hear what you learned.

    By the way, I'm amazed to read you live in Madison. I'm from Wisconsin (small town just north of Madison), lived there for a number of years, and return often to see family and friends. It's nice to read the food adventures of someone there.

  2. Hi Joan! The Futsus are small - like a small acorn squash. I had some luck growing them this year, although I grew my squash with my sweet corn and I think the corn shaded the squash a bit too much. It was also an extremely cool summer here in Southern Wisconsin, which didn't help the squash crop any. I still managed to get some Futsus and boy are they good! You can see a picture of a few of them on my recent post titled "October Randomness". They're green now, but over the next few months they'll ripen to the orange you see in this post.

    Thanks for commenting! It's so fun to know that folks in such far off places are reading my blog!

  3. Nice dishes and beautiful photos!

    Definitely plant those seeds, Futsu is a great squash isn't it? I grow it every year. I like to peel it (it's kind of a pain, I cut along the ribs and then use a potato peeler), sautee onion with a few fresh sage leaves, and grate a bit of orange peel in, set aside. In a separate pan, saute the futsu, turning gently with a spatula so it doesn't break up when you turn it. When it's almost done through, add the onions and the juice of an orange, cover and let it cook for a few more minutes and soak up the orange juice. Add salt and pepper.

    You can also add a bit of soy sauce instead of salt for a more complex flavor.

  4. Hi, someone gave us seeds and we tried this year...OMG they are soooo good. We like sweet Mama squash but I think these are even better because they are the perfect size, great flavor, more moist and they cut easier. A real winnter. Oh yes, by the way we had a bumper crop, they grew like crazy with a great yield in the Willamette valley in Oregon....give 'em lots of room, they do like to reach. Nice photos, I'll try the one with lamb as my daughter raises strictly grass and orchard fed lambs with NO chemicals, sprays, etc. We have all gone organic and saving heirloom seeds like crazy. Thanks for the great webstite.


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