Introducing… Golden Nugget Squash!

Earlier this week I rebooted “What’s In The Crockpot?” – a blog post that I used to do regularly. Guess what? Time for another reboot!

I have a whole archive of posts called “The Produce Aisle”, and each one is about a new-to-me fruit or veggie, that I brought home, researched, and cooked. It’s a way to expand my horizons and try new things, while still eating healthily, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!

My produce experiment this time around is… Golden Nugget Squash. I had never heard of this variety of squash until I saw a pile of them at a cute little farmstand in Orange County called Manassero Farms. No, seriously, this place is adorable, and if you’re ever in Irvine, go check it out!

I brought home three squashes, and then roasted them for a dinner party. But we’ll get to that in a second.

Golden Nugget squashes are grapefruit-sized gourds, and they’re also called Oriental pumpkins. With a name like that, you’d think they’d be from the far east, but nope! They were bred by a guy named Dr. Holland in the ’60s at the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. He crossed a couple other heirloom squash varieties (banquet, tapley’s bush, and buttercup – which is different from butternut), with the goal of creating an alternative crop to sweet potatoes for areas with shorter growing seasons.

Dr. Holland’s work was a success. Farmers and gardeners loved it, because the plants didn’t take up much space and yielded a lot of squashes, which grew relatively quickly. Golden Nugget squash was even a winner of a 1966 All American Sections award, given to the best new fruit and vegetable varieties. Keep it up, Dr. Holland!

The skin of the Golden Nugget is thin and inedible. Since peeling squashes is a pain in the you-know-what (*cough*ass*cough*), I cooked them in the skin, because it’s so much easier to remove cooked. First, though, I cut them in half…

And, like most squashes, I scooped out and discarded the seeds.

The bright orange flesh means that this particular kind of squash is very high in beta-carotene, the same nutrient that gives carrots and sweet potatoes their bright colors. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. In fact, you can get 93% of your daily vitamin A needs from 1 cup of Golden Nugget squash! Golden Nugget squashes are also good sources of fiber, iron, potassium, vitamin C, and niacin.

One cup of Golden Nugget squash has 40 calories, zero fat, protein, or cholesterol, and 9 grams of carbs, 4 of which are sugar. So, really, eat as much as you like!

I got my Golden Nuggets into glass pans, and drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.

My friends and I had decided that these were going to be dessert squashes, because we had a big, healthy meal planned, and there was no more room on the plate! The plate was already full of chicken, sauteed romanesco broccoli, and a hearty, loaded salad.

We enjoyed our dinner while the squashed roasted in the oven, about 45 minutes, at 400 degrees. They smelled great when we pulled them out.

Veggies for dessert? I can get used to this! The cinnamon and nutmeg made it seem extra-desserty, and we even drizzled a touch of maple syrup (about a tablespoon) to drive the point home.

The squash was tender and flavorful, although I think I’d be hard-pressed, in a taste test, to pick it out from butternut. But they’re smaller than butternut, easier to work with, and cook quicker when they’re whole, and those are nice advantages! Plus, half a squash is a perfect serving size, so it’s easy to calculate how many of these guys to purchase.

I just hope I see Golden Nugget squashes elsewhere, because that farmstand is an hour away!

Keep it up, David!

Learn about more unique and rare fruits and veggies here.

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