Have you ever harvested a zucchini that was the size of a human baby? Most gardeners have experienced the joys of these neglected-turned-ginormous wonders. This happened to our garden this past year, but with eight ball squash. But unlike other times we’ve had to make loaves and loves of zucchini bread from one giant-sized zucchini, our overgrown eight ball squash this year proved to be a real gamechanger and something we’ll try to replicate in the future.
Eight ball squash are versatile squash. They grow almost perfectly round and mostly uniform and can be harvested small (hence their name eight ball) or larger. There’s no wonder they were the AAS winner of 1999.
Oversized eight ball squash are awesome. They can be eaten like any squash or zucchini (think sauteed, soups or stews, shredded, baked, or even fried). They can also be stuffed. Even though eight ball squash are classified as summer squash, they can act as both summer or winter squash. After harvest season, if they’re stored properly, eight ball squash can last for a few months into the winter and even turn orange like a pumpkin! Over time the shell hardens just like a winter squash. Be sure to watch them while they’re in storage and consume them while the shell is still hard and doesn’t start to soften. I kid you not, these things are amazing. Dinner in a pumpkin? Just grab one of your overgrown eight ball squash. Sooo good.
Want to try something new in your garden? Give the eight ball squash a try. Its diversity may just surprise you!
Dinner in a Pumpkin:
- 1 large pumpkin or eight ball squash, seeded
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1-2 carrots, diced
- ½-2 lbs ground beef (optional)
- 2 Tbs soy sauce
- 2 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
- White sauce gravy (see white sauce gravy recipe below)
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 8 oz water chestnuts, chopped and drained (optional)
For white sauce gravy:
- 6 Tbs butter or oil
- 6 Tbs flour
- ½ tsp salt
- Dash pepper
- 2 ½ c milk or stock
- Cook rice.
- Cook ground beef, if using. Cook onion, garlic, celery and carrots in oil (no added oil if using ground beef; otherwise 2 Tbs oil). Drain.
- Add soy sauce and brown sugar. Simmer about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another sauce pan, make white sauce gravy. Melt butter or heat oil. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper and any other seasonings as desired (parsley, celery salt, etc). Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Add liquid (milk or stock) slowly, stirring with wire whisk to prevent lumps. Cook until thick.
- Add cooked rice and water chestnuts. Stir to combine.
- Add gravy to rice mixture. Stir to combine.
- Season the bottom of clean eight ball squash or pumpkin with butter or oil and salt and pepper. Spoon rice rice mixture into pumpkin.
- Put top on and place on cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or more, until pumpkin or squash is cooked and filling is hot.
- If desired, scrape sides of pumpkin and add to filling and enjoy.