The squash family has many variations. There are the well-known types, such as butternuts, sweet dumplings, kabocha, spaghetti, zucchini, pattypan, and numerous others. But there are so many lesser know varieties, some you would never see except when they appear in neighbors’ gardens.
If you visit farmers’ markets, you can find some other squash varieties, but you won’t generally find them in most stores. However, every once in a while, an unusual type will show up in my local produce market. And that’s exactly what happened with the giant pear squash.
Giant pear squash is so called because…well, take a look at it. It’s aptly named. (Yes, it really is as big as it looks in the photo. The photo is not distorted in any way.) It has a very mild flesh, somewhat similar to yellow summer squash. It can easily be used in any dish that requires a mild squash, or as a substitute for zucchini.
You want to cut out the spongy core of the giant pear squash. Not because it’s inedible, but because it contains seeds that are too hard to eat. They kind of look like chulpe, a Peruvian dried corn (see photos below).
If, after you cut away the core, any seeds remain in the flesh, pop them out with the tip of a paring knife.
Use giant pear squash in soups, stews, sautés, casseroles, or anything else that strikes you. Below is one of my favorite ways to use squash—with beans.
Giant Pear Squash with Cannellini
1 giant pear squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons Adobo seasoning
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons minced herbs of your choice
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Reserve one half for another recipe. Cut the squash into manageable pieces.Cut out the spongy center from each piece.With either a knife or vegetable peeler, remove the skin. Cut the squash into small slices. Heat the oil in a wide pan. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the paprika.Then add the squash and Adobo seasoning. Sauté for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup water and beans; stir. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. If the pan starts to burn, add a little more water.Add the beans and mix them in. Cook another 5 minutes.Stir in the fresh herbs. Taste for salt, and adjust if needed. Serve.