There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence beside a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
What Mother Goose didn’t tell us was about the crooked little garden out front full of crooked tomatoes, onions, and squash.
Now is the time for crookneck squash, for me. Crookneck squash is a type of summer squash with a classically crooked shape and a rich, buttery yellow rind. If you’re longing for the short days and long winter nights filled with soups, stews, and all things hearty and filling, crookneck squash will fit the bill. They can be used interchangeably with other types of summer squash, such as zucchini. Crooknecks taste of winter squash and lend themselves to being versatile in all methods of cookery. Sturdy enough to be used as a vessel for crudités or hollowed out for gazpacho, the creamy fruit inside can be used in a myriad of ways. Grated raw over cool, crisp salads, lightly breaded and pan-fried, or sliced into soups, crooknecks might take over a vegetable crisper near you.
Soft summer type squash, like crooknecks, are picked when somewhat immature, with seeds small to non-existent. When looking for crookneck squash, look for ones with a nice lemon yellow color, four to six inches long, and heavy for its size. The rind should be tender and smooth. There should be no bruises or soft spots. The flesh should be bright and soft. If you find a crookneck that is older, tougher, and bumpy, that’s OK, too. Their taste will be more pronounced and need to be cooked longer.
Serves 10 to 15 people.
2 -3 pounds crookneck or other yellow squash
1 yellow onion, minced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup white wine
2 tsp nutmeg
10 oz frozen spinach, squeezed dry
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and trim squash. Reserve two squash, while small dicing the others. Slice reserved squash on a diagonal cut, into 10-20 very thin (1/16 inch) slices for crudités base. Sprinkle each with a bit of salt. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. In an additional saucepan, stir in cream and white wine with a wire whisk and cook over low heat. Reduce liquid until 1 cup remains. Meanwhile, add onion and cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Take care not to brown. Add diced squash and tomatoes to pan with butter and sauté for an additional 5-6 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in spinach with a wooden spoon. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
When cream sauce is reduced, add to squash/spinach mixture. Stir to incorporate ingredients. Place 1 to 1 ½ tsp mixture on raw squash slices. Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese, if using.