Squashes of all varieties—and there are many—became the darlings of the low-carb set when their adherents kicked potatoes and pasta out of the kitchen. Gone were crunchy french fries, now replaced by a crumbed and baked zucchini version. Lasagna traded in thick wheat noodles for thin slabs of squash. Out came recipes for yellow squash Bundt cakes, chocolate zucchini bread, curly squash carbonara, pattypan au gratin, squash nachos (squachos?), squash-crust pizzas, squash pierogi, zucchini tots, and curried squash vichyssoise.
Our long growing season allows us to try every recipe for this popular vegetable (which is, botanically, a fruit). Even better? Its subtle flavor pairs perfectly with our state’s favorite ingredient: chile.
Squash growers often need many squash enthusiasts in their lives to help consume the bountiful harvest. One plant can yield between three and nine pounds. Oklahoma University says an acre of squash might produce eight tons. That’s a lot of zucchini!
But don’t stop there. Look for crookneck, pattypan, cousa, tatume, tromboncino, round zucchini, chayote, and zephyr at your local farmers’ market—or plant them yourself next spring.
The plump elongated shape of the cousa (or kousa, the Arabic word for “zucchini”) squash makes them perfect for hollowing out and stuffing. Lebanese cooks use an apple corer, then stuff them with a savory meat, rice, mint, and garlic mixture and slowly braise them in a rich tomato broth.
The large egg-shaped tatume squash can also be stuffed and baked or sautéed with serrano chiles, tarragon, and a squeeze of lemon. The slightly sweeter tromboncino, a gooseneck squash, can be treated much like a butternut squash (think a curried soup to warm you up this autumn).
The cucumberesque chayote has traces of apple and jicama flavors. Also known as vegetable pear and mirliton, it pops up in many New Orleans recipes. Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme loved to stuff the scooped-out squash with a rich and creamy mixture of shrimp, crab, and andouille sausage, with a pinch of cayenne, then bread and fry it.
The delicate two-toned zephyr is perfect for ribboning or spiral cutting and tossing with your favorite pasta sauce. Or add it to a vegan ratatouille with lots of basil, garlic, and roasted tomatoes.
Don’t forget to stock up on fresh-from-the-field chile. New Mexicans can be very discriminating about their favorite chile source. Hatch is the epicenter of chile production, but sample varieties grown in other areas of the state—if it’s puro New Mexican, it’s great.
True chile-heads buy a bushel or two and roast, peel, and freeze them for year-round enjoyment. As a chef who uses the chopped version in my cooking and teaching throughout the year, I enjoy the frozen Bueno Foods Hatch Autumn Roast, once my stash is gone.
Needing a few to test the chutney recipe for this story, I was delighted to discover I could blister them in my air fryer by first rubbing them with vegetable oil, cutting an inch slit to prevent bursting, and cooking them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. I allowed them to cool, covered, in a bowl for 10 minutes, and they peeled easily. (Wear gloves, of course.)
Celebrate these two popular crops and try these tasty recipes. And maybe invent one of your own. Squachos, anyone?
Green Chile, Zucchini, and Squash Pickles
Sweet Green Chile Chutney