Okay. If you live in the South (and perhaps everywhere else for that matter), summertime is filled with anonymous gifts left on your porch.
Martha Foose writes, “When it is not possible to eat all the squash that comes out of the backyard garden quickly enough, the Kornegays have admitted to leaving anonymous gifts on neighbors’ doorsteps under the cover of darkness. They, too, have been on the receiving end of this generous gesture.”
Well, let me attest to the fact that this has been “one particularly prolific summer” for crooknecked squash.
When I lived in Vienna, I visited a restaurant called “Panigl” just about every (other) night of the week. (Is my name still scrawled under the table at my seat?) Well, I used to love an antipasti dish of slow-roasted vegetables that seemed to melt in your mouth. My dear friend, Agatha Whitechapel, once told me how to make the dish and I have approximated her instructions here:
Take all the squash left on your porch (hopefully young and tender with the flowers still attached at the ends – be sure to bake flower and all as the flowers are delicious too), remove the heads of the squash and slice in half.
Wash freshly pulled young onion (as much as you can get).
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Place squash in a large bowl.
Slice garlic cloves thinly and add to squash.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Add salt and pepper (and cayenne pepper too, if you like it that way.)
Arrange on a baking dish, put into oven and bake over low heat for approximately 2 hours. Keep a good eye on your masterpiece towards the end that you can choose the perfect time to remove from the oven. Squash will “wilt” and start to turn brown on the bottoms. Smaller squash may need to be removed earlier and, as these are the tastiest bits, should be eaten (tasted for safety) by the cook immediately.
Onion stalks will begin to darken and crisp but this is perfect and adds to the flavor of the squash. Butch likes to eat the onion AND the crisp stalk.
You can add tomatoes (I have used both green and red), whole garlic cloves, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, etc.
Shavings of Parmesan cheese go well with this antipasti and I just received the most AMAZING prosciutto made from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams.
Enjoy (and look forward to anonymous squash being delivered to your door).