Sweet dumpling squash is a small winter squash with a hard, cream-colored and mottled green skin. Its sweet flavor, which pairs well with maple syrup and other sweet glazes, makes it a flavorful treat that is equally suited for sweet and savory preparations.
What Is Sweet Dumpling Squash?
Also known as sugar dumpling squash, or simply dumpling squash, sweet dumpling squash generally grow to around the size of a medium grapefruit. It's a variety of Cucurbita pepo, which produces summer squash such as zucchini and crookneck squash, winter squash like acorn, as well as most squash that are classified as pumpkins. Sweet dumplings are winter squash, which means they have a hard exterior and are typically available during the autumn and winter months.
Sweet dumpling squash are round with relatively deep ridges, and tops that are slightly recessed. Their skin, while tough, is considered edible.
Its flesh is a pale yellow or orange color, with stringy pulp and seeds that can be roasted and eaten as a snack. And as its name would suggest, sweet dumpling squash is just that, and its sweetness is enhanced even further by roasting.
As a winter squash (technically a fruit), sweet dumpling squash spend about 85 days on the vine before maturing, in comparison with summer squash, some of which are harvested in as few as 40 days. This additional maturation time is necessary to give sweet dumpling squash its hard shell and allow its characteristic sweetness to develop.
How to Cook With Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sweet dumpling squash is one of several varieties of winter squash with edible skin. Other examples include delicata squash, honeynut squash, and acorn squash. This is helpful because dumpling squash's ridges make peeling it somewhat of a tricky process. This doesn't mean you have to eat the skin. You can still peel it, or scoop out the flesh once it's cooked. But in general, most people find the cooked skin to be soft enough to eat comfortably.
In terms of cooking, sweet dumpling squash can be prepared in pretty much the same manner as any other winter squash. Common cooking techniques include roasting, which is particularly complimentary since it helps bring out the squash's inherent sweetness, as well as baking, sauteeing, simmering, and steaming. You can even cook it in the microwave.
Sweet dumpling squash can also be used, like other winter squash, for making soups, purees, sauces, curries and stews, jams and chutneys, as well as in casseroles and gratins, risottos, pasta, gnocchi, and as a pizza topping. Its small size makes it especially suitable for stuffing; it's a perfect single serving.
If you're going to peel it, you'd do so before doing anything else. But if not, your first step would be to halve the squash, scoop out the pulp and the seeds, and then continue to prep it according to whatever dish you're preparing. It can be roasted halved, quartered, or sliced into wedges. Brushing it with olive oil or melted butter, seasoning with kosher salt, along with a sprinkling of brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup, is a simple and delicious preparation. It pairs well with herbs such as sage, oregano, and thyme, along with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
What Does It Taste Like?
Sweet dumpling squash has a sweet, nutty flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. Its flesh is fairly dry, which helps it to caramelize when it's roasted.
Sweet Dumpling Squash Recipes
You can substitute sweet dumpling squash for practically any recipe that calls for winter squash, including honeynut, acorn, and kabocha. Note, too, that you can cook and puree your sweet dumpling squash and use the puree in place of canned pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for that.
Where to Buy Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sweet dumpling squash can be found at farmers' markets and supermarket produce departments during the autumn and winter months.
A whole sweet dumpling squash will keep for 3 to 4 months when stored in a cool place away from sunlight. The ideal temperature for storing this type of squash is around 50 F, but not much colder than that. Once it's sliced, it will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.