Over a Cup of Coffee: Cooking Banana Squash

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— Surprisingly, even though I planted the garden late this past spring, we harvested some banana squash. It’s my favorite variety of winter squash.

Banana squash probably gets its name from the fruit’s cylindrical, banana-like shape. The squash can grow to more than 50 pounds, and when it’s mature, the skin is a pink-orange — even salmon — color. The yellow-orange flesh is thick, like pumpkin, and sweet tasting. This is a good squash for freezing, and the seed description in the seed catalog suggests that it can be used to make pies, though I’ve never tried it.

Here is my recipe for cooking banana squash. You may find that some cookbooks suggest using a hotter oven temperature for cooking the squash.

Although I haven’t tried it, banana squash also can be used to make “New England Squash Pie.” (The recipe also can be made with Hubbard squash.)

Do you have a favorite squash pie recipe? If you have a recipe (any recipe) that you would like to share with readers, send it to P.O. Box 415, Craig, CO 81626, or call 970-824-8809.

Cooking Banana Squash

■ Freshly harvested banana squash

■ Brown sugar

■ Butter or margarine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the outside of the squash. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fiber. Then cut the squash into serving pieces. Put them skin-up (cut sides down) into a 9x13-inch baking dish or a cookie sheet with a ridge. Add a little water so that the squash won’t burn. Bake at 350 degrees until a fork can easily pierce the skin. This probably will take about 40 minutes, maybe longer. Then remove the squash from the oven and turn the pieces over. Kind of mash up the squash without tearing up the skin. Make a little depression in the center of each piece of squash, and fill it with some brown sugar and butter or margarine. Return the squash to the oven until the brown sugar and butter melt. Serve warm.

Note: You can also scoop the cooked squash into a bowl before adding the brown sugar and butter and serve it that way. The squash can be frozen, after cooling, in the skin or after removing it from the skins. Freeze in plastic bags or other freezer containers.

New England Squash Pie

■ Pastry for a 9-inch pie (1 shell)

■ 1 cup sugar

■ 1 3/4 cups strained mashed (cooked) squash

■ 1 teaspoon cinnamon

■ 1 teaspoon salt

■ 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

■ 1 1/2 cups milk

■ 1/2 teaspoon ginger

■ 3 eggs

■ 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a pie plate with the pastry shell. Beat all of the ingredients together with a rotary beater. Pour into the shell. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a silver knife inserted 1 inch from the side of the filling comes out clean. (As you would test a pumpkin pie.)

Note: I usually start baking a pumpkin pie at 425 degrees, bake for about 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. I don’t know if that would work with this squash pie or not.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2013.

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