A week ago, I spent the day in Santa Barbara, gluttonously seeing four movies in a row. I went primarily for the Santa Barbara Film Festival, but, thanks to magical timing, I got the added bonus of the incredible Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market. In the middle of a downtown parking lot, I met a stranger, sitting alone on a table under a tent. While I chatted with a man from McGrath Farms about fava beans, fresh vs. dried, this gorgeous guy caught my eye. He had a mysterious, exotic air about him, like a belly dancer with veiled eyes and swirling hips, and I just HAD to know him. I took a deep breath, smoothed my crazy Butterfly Beach hair and approached slowly. His name was Kuri — Kuri Squash, to be exact — and he was lovely.
I brought the little man into my kitchen and just did what any self-respecting, demure, blonde-headed girl would do — I grabbed my cleaver. I cut the squash into six triangle-ish chunks, scooped out the seeds and did literally NOTHING else to prep them. I put them, cut sides down on a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet (why set yourself up for a major clean-up, huh?) and threw them into a 375• oven. I turned on Project Runway All Stars and waited . . . and waited . . . and was rewarded, after about 20 minutes, with the roasty-toasty smell of nuts and honey and childhood wafting out of the oven. When I pulled them out, they looked like this:
Nothing spectacular to look at, I know. I scooped the warm, caramel-colored flesh out of the shell, and SHAZAM — best squash ever. The texture was similar to freshly roasted chestnuts, and the flavor was nutty and rich with a little bit of sweetness. There’s also a meaty quality about this squash, which gave me the idea to include it in a veggie burger. It gives great body, density and a just a hint of creaminess to any bean-based burger. It would also be fantastic inside homemade ravioli or smashed into mashed potatoes or pureed with a bit of broth and sauteed aromatics and ginger into soup, maybe finished with a touch of cream. I suppose when I cook for other people, I’ll go all jazzy with my Kuri. But today, when it’s just li’l ole me, I’ll enjoy this guy au natural — perfectly roasted with a little sprinkle of fancy salt. In my experience, the really good guys are fantastic without all the fuss.