How do you cook a mystery squash?


I’ve always loved the term "volunteers" as applied to plants in the garden that grow without any human directive. Maybe they’re tomato seeds that hitched a ride in the compost and sprouted when they felt like it. We often get mache (a winter-hardy salad green) seeding itself here and there in our beds, and we happily let it grow.

The squash family seems to best embody the volunteer spirit. Those big, fat pairs of first leaves are unmistakeable when they appear, and they really like growing in  compost. We once harvested a beautiful pumpkin from our compost pile, in a year when we weren’t growing any pumpkins in the garden. Bonus!!

And here is what our compost pile produced this summer:

Mystery squash. It reminds me of both zucchini and spaghetti squash, though I cannot identify it as either one of those. Perhaps it’s some kind of cross between the two? Or perhaps, since last year’s zucchini plants were a hybrid strain, this is its bastard offspring. Hybrids are known for not "coming true" (another term I enjoy) when they reseed themselves. This is why one saves seeds from heirloom crops but not hybrids.

Anyway, we have two of these honkers and don’t know what to do with them. I keep bypassing them when it’s time to cook dinner. Frying it would probably be a safe option, but if it’s more like a spaghetti squash, it would prefer to be baked.

As a side note, this really makes me happy: