Tuesday, September 18, 2012

International Squash Fever

Every Autumn I'm overcome by the desire to bring home as many varieties of pumpkins, squashes and gourds as I can find to celebrate the season in the most colorful way, and to create opportunities for new recipes, both sweet and savory.

Marina di Chioggia
Today's finds included these heirloom varieties from Italy, France and New Zealand:

Marina di Chioggia

Also know as the "Sea Pumpkin from Chioggia", this Italian variety is from a seaport town by the Venetian lagoon that was once part of the Byzantine Empire. A member of the Cucurbita maxima family, it's a turban squash with dry, sweet flesh that keeps well. I think the dark blue green color is beautiful, and I love the bumpy texture. Chioggia is also the home of the beautiful, delicious red and white striped Chioggia beet, which I grew in our last garden and loved roasted and marinated in rice wine vinegar.

Amy Goldman in her wonderful book, "The Compleat Squash", says Marina di Chioggia was born to be gnocchi or ravioli. She's given us her delicious recipe for gnocchi with walnut sage pesto, but in addition to the recipes, I treasure the book as a reference when I want to identify something, and so that I don't wind up trying to cook with purely decorative varieties, and for the pure pleasure of looking at the pictures.

Galeux D'Eysines

Brode Galeux D'Eysines (aka Galeuse D'Eysines)

The name of this unusual pumpkin translates loosely as "embroidered with warts from Eysines", a small town in the Bordeaux region of France. It may not be beautiful to everyone, but it is to me.

What looks like peanuts or warts are the result of a build up of sugar under the skin. The flesh is fragrant and sweet, somewhere between a pumpkin and a sweet potato, depending on the point at which it was harvested and how long it sits before use.
When cooked, the flesh is very smooth, and it's often used for soups, sauces and pumpkin butter.


This lovely blue-gray pumpkin with stringless bright orange flesh is from Jarrahdale, New Zealand, and is said to be very similar to Queensland Blue. With a dry but creamy texture and rich flavor, it's used for both sweet and savory dishes and can be substituted for pumpkin. 

A designer's friend, I can picture Jarrahdale in an industrial chic setting, or in a farmhouse kitchen.

The island's inhabitants today.
At the moment the pumpkins are sitting on the island in the kitchen as part of a shape-shifting assemblage of decorative and edible items, but who knows where they'll wind up as the new treasures arrive and take center stage. Next I'll be looking for orange pumpkins, squashes and gourds to add vibrant color, and white ones for a ghostly note, and, well anything that catches my eye...

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