Beyond the pumpkin, butternut, and spaghetti squash, Quebec has an impressive variety of cucurbits. Some squashes are unrecognized, while others are mysteriously appealing. Given their odd look, those unfamiliar with squash may feel a little overwhelmed. However, they make for a great find if you want to discover their delicate flavour and mouth-watering texture.
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Generally speaking, Quebec’s squashes fall into one of two major categories: summer squash and winter squash. And classifying them is easy as can be! Summer squash is delicate, whereas winter squash has a thick, tough skin. In cool, favourable storage conditions, their skin provides great protection, allowing the winter squash to be preserved until early spring.
There are over 100 varieties of squash in Quebec, and most can be prepared the same way. Before you wrestle your squash to try to peel it, note that you can make the process a whole lot easier by poking the flesh with the tip of a knife. Next, cook the squash in the microwave at maximum intensity for three minutes to soften the skin. Voilà! You can now peel, cut, and cook your squash to your liking!
5 squashes to discover and love
If you’re a fan of sweet squash with smooth flesh, here are five varieties to expand your culinary repertoire. Nutritious and packed full of vitamins, they are best when cut into cubes or chunks and coated with a mixture of 30 ml (2 tbsp.) of oil and 15 ml (1 tbsp.) of honey. Simply roast them on the centre grill of your oven, preheated at 200°C (400°F) for 45 minutes, and enjoy!
1. The Blue Hubbard squash
Oval shaped (and sometimes almost perfectly round), the Hubbard squash can get pretty large. Its greyish-blue skin is thick and lumpy. Given its texture, it can be enjoyed as sticks or as a purée to be added to your muffins and sweet breads.
2. The Red Kury squash
This small-sized, bright orange squash is delicate and sweet. You don’t even need to peel it; its fine skin is edible! Its flavour is reminiscent of chestnuts, making it the perfect squash for grilling on the barbecue once sliced and the seeds removed.
3. The Delicata squash
Use the peel of this squash to make fries! Long, striped, and not too big, it can easily be cut in half and stuffed with sausages or legumes, along with Rosemary, harissa, sage, and maple. This versatile squash is delicious and easy to prepare. Plus, it requires no peeling!
4. The Sweet Dumpling squash
This squash is usually small and striped green and white. Once sliced, its flesh is orange and very sweet. Its hazelnut taste is especially yummy in sage pasta.
5. The Buttercup squash
Not to be confused with the butternut squash, the buttercup is a very sweet, orange-fleshed squash. Particularly tasty in any sauce, it’s probably the preferred squash to discover this year.