I would have been OK with it if they were stealing our squash to feed their families, but that wasn’t the case. One of the thieves had a Buttercup squash and the other what looked like a Sunshine squash, both of the $4 size. With no time to hide the squash as we drove up, the kids scurried away sheepishly as we checked the cash box, which was empty, at which point they turned tail and ran.
We strolled after them in leisurely pursuit, comparing notes on what had just gone down in front of our eyes in broad daylight. My son, who had nodded to the thieves as they walked by with the little squashes that we didn’t yet know were stolen, knew who they were and where they lived.
About halfway to their house, we found broken pieces of red kuri squash on the sidewalk. I was relieved it wasn’t a Sunshine, my favorite variety. At that point, we returned home to prepare for other matters. Like a fine pumpkin pie, revenge is excellent served cold.
It was at about that time that I received an email with an attached photo of a very sad pancake.
“I am so bored with breakfast!” my friend wrote, interspersed with words I can’t print. “What should I do?”
I’m not usually a breakfast eater, but some people are, and I have to respect that. I got to work perfecting two squash-based breakfast recipes, one sweet and one savory. I practiced the sweet recipe on my kids, who enjoyed foods with syrup. I practiced the savory version on myself, but in the afternoon, when it wasn’t really breakfast anymore.
The sweet breakfast was almost too easy. I scooped a few spoonfuls of soft, cooked squash into a little bowl and mashed it until it was completely smooth. Then I added it to my favorite French toast recipe. The squash added a thick, rich orange coating to the French toast, keeping it moist and soft, while flying completely under the radar: The kids loved it, but couldn’t guess the secret ingredient.
When I do eat breakfast, I typically prefer savory, as I would rather add hot sauce than sweet syrup. My savory breakfast squash was fried in bacon grease—everything, including the seeds, skin, and egg fritters made with roasted squash flesh. If you don’t do bacon, follow along with your favorite oil.
We can’t squash every beef in life, but at least we can squash our breakfast. On most days, that’s enough.
Preparing Squash for Breakfast
Cut 1 winter squash (I like Sunshine or Kabocha squash) in half along the axis of your choice and place the halves cut sides down on a baking pan, seeds and all. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until it’s soft enough to push in from the outside. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Once cool, scrape out the seeds and strings in the middle and set aside. Scrape the skin clean of squash flesh. Put the flesh in bowl and mash it until smooth. Set aside the skin. Choose your savory or sweet (or both) breakfast adventure below.
- 1 egg
- Splash of cream
- Splash of vanilla
- 1 tablespoon cooked and mashed squash
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 2 slices bread
- 1/2 tablespoon butter, for cooking
Beat together all ingredients except the bread and butter until smoothly mixed. Dredge the bread. If the bread is extra hard and crusty, soak it for up to an hour. Sauté the slices in butter, like you do with French toast.
- 1 to 4 slices of bacon (depending on how fatty it is; you want enough to add about 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan)
- Squash seeds, somewhat cleaned but not meticulously spit-shined
- Squash skin
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons cooked and mashed squash
- 1 tablespoon bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon grated hard cheese, like pecorino Romano
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Oil as needed
Fry the bacon until nicely browned. Remove the bacon and fry the seeds, spreading them out so no two are touching. Find room in the grease for some pieces of cleaned squash skin and set them down with exterior sides in the grease. Turn the heat down to medium-low and slowly fry the seeds and skin, turning when browned on one side.
While the seeds and skins bubble in the oil, beat the eggs with the mashed squash, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Remove the browned seeds and skins. If the pan is close to dry, add more oil. Turn the heat to above medium. When the oil starts to sizzle at the slightest provocation, pour 1/4 cup or so of the batter at a time into the oil, in dollops far enough apart from one another that they won’t touch. There should be enough oil in the pan that the dollops float atop a thin layer. After about 10 minutes, flip them. When the other sides are brown, remove them from the pan and drain them on paper towels. Serve everything with hot sauce.