Sweet Dumpling Squash

How do you get to be our age and have never heard of a Sweet Dumpling squash before? Can’t answer that, but I do know that when we recently eyeballed some at the supermarket, we didn’t hesitate to purchase one.

Dumpling squash, botanically classified as Cucurbita pepo, grows on short trailing vines and is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family along with gourds and pumpkins. Also known as Sweet Dumpling squash, it has a striking exterior similar in appearance to the delicata and sugar loaf and is known for its unique appearance and size.

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What’s ironic is, we had some “bonus” plants growing in our yard this summer, most likely from seeds in our compost. My plant identifier App “PlantSnap” established it as a Cucurbita pepo! The vines got ridiculously long and grew some beautiful yellow hibiscus-like flowers, but never produced the fruit.

IMG_6858Our “bonus” Cucurbita pepo vine got to be 5 times this length and was taking over the patio!

IMG_7015Hibiscus-like flowers from the Cucurbita pepo vine.

Of course there are as many recipes, as there are types of squash, so without getting too complicated, I wanted to make a simple roasted squash recipe with comfort-food qualities reminiscent of Autumn. After all, the new season just got under way and the weather cooled down. When cooked, Sweet Dumpling is smooth-textured, light, and tender with a sweet, mild flavor—just the ticket to complement our grilled lamb chops.

It is best suited for cooked applications such as roasting, sautéing, baking, and steaming and it can be used in both sweet and savory preparations. Its lumpy exterior and small size make it difficult to peel and are most often cooked with their skin on. But to me that’s the beauty of it—the shell creates a natural decorative bowl in which to serve it.

Tastewise, the squash is like, if a sweet potato, butternut squash and acorn squash had a flavor baby, it would be the Dumpling. It’s a little sweet and full of flavor. The texture is almost like a sweet potato – more dense and not as stringy as an acorn squash. So I used a similar approach to cooking it as I do when I roast acorn squash.

All at once with this recipe, each bite is sweet, savory and salty. Now that Sweet Dumpling squash is on our radar, it’ll be a more frequent guest at our dinner table.

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Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 Sweet Dumpling squash
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds with a spoon. Use a fork to poke several holes in the outside skin of each half of the squash.
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  3. Place squash in baking pan with hollow side up. Add 1/2″ of water to bottom of pan. Place 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the hollow of each squash half.
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  4. Pour 1 tablespoon of maple syrup in each well. (It will run off the edges if you try to pour it there.) Bake uncovered on middle rack, and after 25 minutes, baste the entire flesh, including the edges, with the butter mixture.
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  5. Continue to roast for another 15-25 minutes (40-50 minutes total) or until the flesh is soft and the top is starting caramelize.
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  6. The buttery goodness will have pooled in the hollow, so using a spoon or fork, mash it all together (you can scrape it into a serving bowl if desired.) Serve hot.

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