Old-fashioned Steamed (Winter) Squash

Steamed squash in bowl

Yesterday my husband and I made our annual trip to a farm where the farmer sells pumpkins and squash from a farm wagon. We’ve purchased pumpkins and squash from the same farmer for more than ten years, and always look forward to a conversation about the weather, how young people don’t know that Hubbard squash is a squash, and tend to think of it as a decorative gourd, and so on.

We weren’t disapointed. The farmer had three farm wagons filled with orange, yellow, green, and white pumpkins, and butternut, acorn, Hubbard, and other types of squash.

When I got home, I flipped through my hundred-year-old cookbooks and found a recipe for Steamed (Winter) Squash. The recipe is very simple. Sometimes simple is best. Chunks of squash are steamed, then mashed. Butter, salt, pepper, and a small amount of sugar are then stirred into the squash. The mashed Steamed Squash was delightful. It’s a perfect comfort food, and  brings warm memories of eating a similar vegetable dish when I was a child.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Steamed Squash
Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

I found this recipe a little difficult to follow, but I interpreted it to mean that fairly large chunks of winter squash that have not been peeled should be put into the steamer. After steaming, the pulp is removed from the squash shell, then mashed.

Since there are no amounts listed in this recipe, I made a judgement about how much of each ingredient to use to make 3-4 servings of the Steamed Squash.

Squash chunks in steamer

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Steamed Winter Squash

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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About 1 pound winter squash (I used 1/2 of a butternut squash)

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/8 teamspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

Cut squash into large chunks (if necessary remove seeds), each about 4 inches across, Do not peel. Put the chunks of squash in a large pan that contains a steamer. Add water to the pan, so that it comes to just below the steamer. Cover pan. Using high heat, bring water to a boil, then reduce heat so the water continues gently boiling. Keep pan covered and steam until the squash is tender (about 20-30 minutes).  Remove from heat. Using a spoon scrape the squash pulp from the shell. Put into a mixing bowl and mash. Stir in butter, salt, pepper, and sugar. Put in serving bowl and serve immediately.


Old-fashioned Mashed Summer Squash


Mashed Summer Squash in dish

Squash, squash everywhere – zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, yellow straightneck squash, pattypan squash. What should I do with all of them?

A hundred years ago people had similar concerns. This is what an article said about summer squash in a 1922 magazine:

 Summer Squash

Is summer squash one of your favorite vegetables, or do you consider it a rather tasteless thing, to be used as Hobson’s choice, but not to be hailed with joy? . . .

Few vegetables repay so amply for the small amount of garden-plot, fertilizer, and cultivation they require. They bear heavily though the season, and do not, like so many vegetables, require to be cooked immediately after picking in order catch the finest flavor. They are delicious when properly seasoned. They are also amongst the easiest vegetable to prepare for cooking.

American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

The article also includes a recipe for Mashed Summer Squash. I seasoned the squash with butter and celery salt, and it made a delightful side. dish.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Mashed Summer Squash
Source: American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

This recipe has so many options and permutations that I didn’t know where to began: Boil the squash or steam it; Season with salt or celery salt; peel the squash or don’t.

In the end. I cut the squash into chunks, but didn’t peel, and I used a Foley mill to mash (and remove the squash skin and seeds). The resulting mashed squash was very juicy, so I then partially strained the mashed squash.

Here’s how I made the recipe:

Mashed Summer Squash

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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5 cups, diced or sliced summer squash

1/2 teaspoons celery salt

1/8 pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Put squash in saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.  Press through a strainer or sieve. (I used a Foley mill.)

If the mashed squash is too juicy, partially strain until squash is the desired consistency. Then put in a dish and serve.


Old-fashioned Squash Nuggets

squash nuggets

According to a 1920 Good Housekeeping article, squash are a gold-mine and are “almost as variously useful as tomatoes.” One of the recipes included in the article was for Squash Nuggets. I decided to give it a try and was glad I did.

The Squash Nuggets were a fun, easy-to-eat, small sweet muffin that had just a hint of orange. They are just the right size for a small snack or treat – and great with coffee. They were especially tasty when eaten warm, but also good cold.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for squash nuggets
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1920)

The pureed squash that I used was very moist. When I made this recipe the dough was very sticky, and I had to add a lot of extra flour (a whopping 1 1/2 cups of additional flour) to get a dough that can be rolled.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Squash Nuggets

  • Servings: approximately 35 small muffins
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened

6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons dark corn syrup

1 egg (or 2 egg yolks) (I used an egg.)

1 cup squash puree (I cooked cubes of Hubbard squash, then put through a Foley mill to make smooth. Butternut squash would also work well – or use canned or frozen squash.)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 1/2 cups pastry flour (All-purpose flour may be substituted) + additional flour if needed (My squash was very moist and I needed to add an additional 1 1/2 cups flour to get a dough that I could roll.)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 375° F. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter or margarine and the sugar. Add the corn syrup, egg, squash puree, orange peel, flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir to combine into a soft dough that can be rolled to create log shapes. Add additional flour if the squash was very moist. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.


Delicata Squash in Brown Sauce


cubed squash in brown sauce in serving dish

Each Fall I buy a Delicata squash and roast it, but until I came across a hundred-year-old Delicata squash recipe, I never gave any thought to other ways that it might be prepared. It was fun to try a “new” way of serving this old-time squash.

The century-old recipe was for Delicata Squash in Brown Sauce. The recipe called for cubed squash that is served in a delightful classic brown sauce.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for delicata squash in brown sauce
Source: American Cookery (January, 1919)

I made several adaptions and assumptions when making this recipe. I used fresh Delicata squash rather than canned. And, I used butter rather than “fat.”

I was a bit foggy about what was meant by three slices of carrot and five of celery. Does the recipe really mean just a few small pieces of sliced carrot and celery – or was it referring to larger chunks? I made the assumption that the recipe was calling for one carrot and two stalks of celery – but this may not be what the recipe writer intended.

And, have you ever heard of mushroom ketchup? Since I didn’t have any idea what it was, I went with the Worcestershire sauce option.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Delicata Squash in Brown Sauce

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 Delicata squash

3 tablespoons butter

2 slices of a large onion

1 carrot, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

4 tablespoons rye or barley flour (I used rye flour.)

1 1/4 cups beef broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Peel squash, halve and remove seeds and membranes; then cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Put on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.

In the meantime, melt butter in a skillet. Add onion, carrot and celery; sauté until tender using medium heat. Stir in the flour, and continue stirring until the flour just begins to brown. Gradually add beef broth while stirring constantly; continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and strain; reserve the strained sauce. (If desired, the cooked vegetables may be served separately; otherwise discard.) Return the strained sauce to the saucepan; stir in salt, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce. Reheat until hot.

To serve, place cooked squash in serving dish. Pour brown sauce over the squash.

Old-fashioned Escalloped Squash

escalloped squash in baking dishAugust means a plethora of zucchini, so I’m always looking for new ideas (hmmm. . . I think that I really mean old ideas) for using zucchini and other summer squash. And, I lucked out. I found a nice hundred-year-old recipe for Escalloped Squash that is made with mashed squash, egg, and milk – and topped with crispy bread crumbs. If you are looking for a recipe that is a little different from the typical modern summer squash recipe, yet still tasty, this recipe is for you.

The Escalloped Squash has a custard-like texture, and a delightful, mild squash flavor. I used small zucchini when I made this dish, and I peeled the zucchini very thinly with a vegetable peeler. This left a greenish tinge to the zucchini flesh and resulted in Escalloped Squash that had a lovely pale green color.

Here is the original recipe:

Escalloped squash recipe
Source; The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

The original recipe is not clear whether it calls for summer or winter squash. I interpreted it to mean summer squash, but winter squash would probably also work.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Escalloped Squash

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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5 cups summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash), peeled with seeds removed, and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 400° F. Put squash in a saucepan and barely cover with water. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until squash is tender. Remove from heat and drain. Mash squash and set aside.

Put eggs, milk, butter, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl, beat to combine. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of mashed squash into bowl with the beaten egg mixture, stir quickly. Then add and stir in the remainder of the mashed squash. (The egg is first combined with a little of the hot mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot combination.) Pour into ungreased 1 quart casserole. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the top. Dot with butter. Bake in oven uncovered until hot and bubbly (approximately 35-45 minutes.)

Old-Fashioned Squash Pie

If you like pumpkin pie, but are looking for something a bit richer and more flavorful, Squash Pie is the pie for you.

I used  heirloom hubbard squash to make this hundred-year-old Squash Pie recipe, but other winter squash would work equally well.

This recipe uses less milk and more eggs than the typical modern pumpkin pie recipe. Similarly the spices are just a little different  from modern recipes.  Many modern recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger – the old recipe lists cinnamon and nutmeg, but does not call for any ginger. All of these tweaks are good – but the texture and taste are a little different than modern Pumpkin Pies.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Paste is an archaic term for the pie pastry. When I made this recipe I used my usual pie pastry recipe, but sometime soon I’ll try the old recipe for “Chopped Paste.”

Here’s the Squash Pie recipe updated for modern cooks:

Squash Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 3/4 cups winter squash (hubbard, butternut, etc.), pared and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 9-inch pie shell

Put cubed squash in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 20 minutes); remove from heat and drain. Puree squash. (There should be approximately 1 cup of pureed squash.)

Preheat 425° F.  Put pureed squash in mixing bowl, add sugar, eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pie shell. Place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (approximately 40-50 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Old-Fashioned Fried Summer Squash Recipe

Today summer squash is often streamed or grilled, but once or twice each summer I fry it.  So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Summer Squash.

When I make fried squash, I generally “bread” it with flour. The old recipe called for actual bread crumbs.  The bread crumbs are a nice twist to this classic comfort food.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

Yellow summer squash  or zucchini could be used in this recipe. I used yellow straightneck squash to more authentically replicate the hundred-year-old recipe. According to Wikipedia, “the first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s.” Since this cookbook was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1917, the cookbook author won’t have used zucchini.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Summer Squash

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 small summer squash

salt and pepper

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, slight beaten

shortening or cooking oil

Wash and cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper,  dip in the beaten eggs, and coat with bread crumbs. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying skillet. When hot, carefully place the breaded squash slices in the skillet in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the squash slices may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each slice is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Some of the breading will fall off the squash during cooking. This is okay, the remaining breading is enough to make an attractive and tasty dish.

The old recipe calls for coating the squash slices with bread crumbs, both before and after dipping in egg. When I made this recipe very few bread crumbs clung to the squash slices prior to dipping it in the egg – so I skipped this step when updated the recipe. It works fine to only coat with bread crumbs after dipping in the eggs.