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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mysterious Squash

"These seeds are from the village in Greece," said my mother-in-law. "They'll make beautiful squash in the fall." And she handed me the thick, white coarse seeds that looked a lot like the pumpkin seeds I buy in bulk. I expected these seeds to grow pumpkins, and told my kids to be ready to decorate them on Halloween.

A week later the squash seeds from Greece we had planted in June erupted into a plant that took over our backyard 5x8 vegetable garden. The heirlooms fared well, as they were planted next to a wall. The cucumbers shrunk a little due to the competition, and the cabbage, as I am learning, takes forever to grow.

But I am a patient gardener.

The mysterious squash that came from Greece does not exist anywhere in the States, from what I can tell. I have done internet searches on it, shown it to my gardener friends who have shown it to their mothers...I've done everything but take it to the Farmers Market which is my next step. It looks just like the picture above, but the color of zucchini. In description it sounds like a delicata - pale yellow in color, sweet and mild, like a mellow butternut.

But here's the thing - I don't care what it is, I only care how it tastes (and if it's good for us). It becomes sugary and fragile when I roast it, and paired with oven-roasted heirlooms it grew alongside, topped with shaved Grana Padano mixed with whole wheat pasta, we are in summertime harvest bliss.

Tonight I plan to make soup with my mystery squash. It should pair well and look beautiful with a sprinkling of red curry at the end. I've been marinating some chicken breasts in balsamic and brown sugar. With a crisp, fresh salad and a crusty French bread it'll be an end of summer almost autumn feast.

Now if I could only get everything in my garden to grow as enthusiastically as this squash from the homeland, "What's for dinner?" wouldn't be such a mystery, either.

~ Samantha Gianulis

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