This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.
Every once in a while a new vegetable variety comes along that’s a real game changer for me. I’m talking about something that is truly different, and truly wonderful both to grow and to eat. My latest find is called Centercut Squash, and it has been an exciting addition to the lineup of veggies I’m growing here this year.
Centercut is a hybrid C. moschata squash from Row 7 seed company. It’s a winter squash that is treated like a summer squash and eaten when the fruits are young and tender, before the skin toughens up. The listing at Row 7 declares it “a new chapter for the heirloom tromboncino, and an answer to ho-hum zucchini.” While seed companies are always a bit prone to hyperbole, in this case I believe they are not exaggerating. The young fruits resemble tromboncino squash, but with a darker green skin. As they get larger I think they look more like neck pumpkins, which is likely also in their parentage.
Centercut grows on long, rambling vines that are best trellised. I planted mine in the corner of the garden and let it vine up along the fencing. Like other moschata squashes, it is resistant to squash vine borers, and in my garden has held up very well against the squash bugs. My two plants have been quite prolific, and so far have yielded over 15 pounds of squash with no signs of letting up. It’s best to harvest the fruit young, while it’s about 8-10 inches long and the diameter is banana sized or smaller. The neck is solid flesh, the seeds are confined to the small cavity at the blossom end of the fruit.
As great as Centercut is in the garden though, it’s in the kitchen where it really shines. The flesh is less watery than a zucchini, and has a sweet nutty flavor. We’ve enjoyed it roasted in the oven, and sauteed on the stove. Both methods bring out the flavor, and the flesh gets tender and soft. To roast in the oven, I cut in half lengthwise and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. I put it in a cast iron skillet that’s been preheated in a 400°F oven and pop it back in the oven to cook. I flip the squash over once or twice during cooking, and it’s generally done to my tastes in about 30 minutes or so.
It’s also good sauteed on the stove. I like to add a little garlic or some onions, and though I haven’t tried it yet a few chopped herbs would be nice. I can also see adding a few tomatoes or peppers to the skillet. Anything that goes with zucchini will go with Centercut, and a bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over the finished squash would also be nice. We’ve shared a few of the squash with others and our friend Ange sent me a pic of how she prepared hers sauteed with a little onion. Thanks Ange for sharing the photo and letting me use it here!
I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on a new squash that is easy to grow and truly great in the kitchen as well. Seeds for Centercut are only available in the U.S. from Row 7 seed company, and proceeds from their seed sales helps support public plant breeding research at Cornell University. And thanks to chef Dan Barber and breeder Michael Mazourek for creating this wonderful variety of squash! I’ll be back soon with another variety to spotlight.