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A Stranger in Paradise

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 could hardly wait to bring him home with me.  I asked where this little guy came from and how one might cook him, etc., but the only answer I got was “I just picked them this morning.”  SOLD.

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.

2 responses »

  1. This is the most spectacular, exciting and purely delicious description of squash that I have ever read. Can’t wait to get my hands on Kuri Squash, but I believe I will have to order it from far away places since I have never, ever seen it in a market in Oklahoma. Thank you, Meg, for posting such tempting information on what appears to be a most beguiling food source.

  2. My fav way to do any squash these days is to roast it whole…usually one hour….You can easily cut in to it….and, I think, the flavor is even more intense. I usually scoop out the seeds, etc, clean the seeds, then roast them with some salt for an extra treat…..I will keep my eye out for these guys…I am not a veggie head, but, I do enjoy at least one veggie meal a week…even more in summer… I got a weekly market share last year, delivered with my local dairy order… YUMMMY….Your blogs are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing!


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