Have you ever wondered what to do with winter squash that still haven’t gotten completely ripe when frost hits? Seed grower and heirloom advocate Rodger Winn told us about a family recipe for squash souffle while we visited his farm one summer.
Most squash recipes call for either winter squash, which are harvested at full seed maturity, or summer squash, which are harvested when the seeds are just beginning to develop. Most squash varieties that are bred for use as summer squash, if allowed to get to the stage of seed maturity, will be unappetizing. However, most squash that are bred to be winter squash, if you harvest them when the seeds are just beginning to mature, are a wonderful substitute for regular summer squash. They’re also quite tasty in-between.
When your squash plants are on their last leg and many of the leaves have died, it’s not hard to find a squash that’s still immature; they’re just easy to see. And, when your first fall frost is around the corner and you’re doing your annual winter squash harvest, you’re bound to find a few immature fruits along with the mature ones. If the peel is tough, you’ll need to peel them. If the seeds are tough, you’ll need to scoop them out. (The seeds are likely to be tough unless the squash is just barely past the summer squash stage, but, depending on the variety, the skin might remain tender much longer.)
Irena’s Squash Souffle
I really liked the sound of Rodger’s recipe, but I didn’t remember the details, and I often don’t have the patience to measure ingredients. Here’s how I made a squash souffle that my housemates and I really enjoyed.
First, I cut an intermediate-stage Mrs. Amerson’s squash into big chunks. Mrs. Amerson’s is a moschata type, and I’m pretty confident that other squash in the moschata species, such as Seminole and Butternut, would produce very similar results.
I removed the seeds and the parts of the peel that were tough. I sliced the squash thinly. It wouldn’t all fit in one frying pan, so I put it in two. Those frying pans mostly gets used for savory dishes, but I didn’t worry about how their seasoning would affect this dish.
I let the squash cook a bit, stirring occasionally, while I beat about 10 eggs, then mixed them with about 5 cups of milk and about 2 cups of evaporated cane juice (i.e., sugar, but not as processed as most white or brown sugars). I poured the mixture over the squash, sprinkled it with nutmeg, covered it, and cooked on low heat until the surface was solid.
Then, I decided to write this post, so I asked Rodger for the family recipe. If you want to cook from a recipe, this is probably the one to use.
For Rodger’s South Carolina family, this is a Thanksgiving recipe. They tend to get their first frost in early November. Intermediate-maturity squash will keep just fine for a couple of weeks, and sometimes much longer, but won’t keep until spring.
Winn Family Squash Souffle
We use pumpkins that are almost mature but still have a green rind. If they are too immature the pie will be mushy. Cut the squash lengthwise in 1 in strips and peel. Then slice very thin, about 1/8 in. Layer the slices in a pre baked pie crust till filled. For the custard use 1 or 1 1/2 cups white sugar or unrefined sugar, 2 cups milk, a tsp. of vanilla extract, and 3 eggs. Mix well. This is enough custard for two shallow pies, or one deep dish with a little left over. Then bake at 375 degrees until set (about 45min to 1hr). Enjoy.