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Dale Carson Gives the Skinny on Squash

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I look forward to seeing the first acorn squash pop through the soil in my garden. I didn’t buy those seeds. I saved them from a large squash purchased last fall. I scattered the perfectly dried seeds on the ground—my gift to lurkey (wild) turkey and his friends. Actually, it was a bribe to prevent them from digging up my precious pumpkin and pole bean mounds. It seems to be working.

Winter and summer squash are amazing food, varied and versatile. Winter squash has a long shelf life, as if they knew it was needed.

Squash are prolific, scattering far and wide, so it’s smarter to plant less and at different intervals. Summer squashes—like the yellow crookneck, straightneck and the green zucchini—are best when harvested young at less than six inches. Really large squash need to be skinned and the seeds removed. Giant overgrown squash can be carved into containers or benefit the compost heap.

The delicate flavor of squash makes them a good pairing partner with eggplant. They can even be interchanged in recipes, especially recipes in which they are breaded first. A layered dish of breaded eggplant and squash baked with onion and cheese between the layers is a delightful side dish.

This recipe can be adapted to feed a crowd or enjoyed by family for a couple of nights. It is especially great served with a green salad and cornbread.

Super Summer Squash Dinner

4 cups sliced green and yellow squash

2 large sweet onions, sliced and chopped

1 cup cubed eggplant

1 cup cut green beans

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1 bell pepper, chopped

½ pound fresh mushrooms

1 small can tomato sauce

1 large can red kidney beans

1 can chick peas

1 cup cooked rice, preferably wild rice

¼ cup molasses

3 strips bacon

1 pound of meat (optional), ground buffalo, pork, lamb, sausage

Saute the bacon, remove, drain and save. Saute the onion and brown the meat in a large skillet. Add the squash, pepper, beans, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, kidney beans, chick peas, tomato sauce and molasses. Add the bacon crumbled. Cook all down slowly on low heat until it is the consistency of chili. It doesn’t need much seasoning, but you can use salt, pepper, garlic powder, sage or chili powder if desired.

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American CookingNative New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with them and her husband in Madison, Connecticut.