What's in Season

Discover Candy Roaster Squash

This gem of a winter squash gets sweeter with age

Illustration: John Burgoyne

few years ago, when Brandon Carter was opening FARM, his restaurant in Bluffton, South Carolina, he pored through lists from nearby farmers, searching for exciting ingredients. “I’d never heard of Candy Roaster squash, and was intrigued by the name,” says the chef, who grew up in North Georgia. “When I saw it, it was unlike any other squash that I’d ever worked with. It’s elongated, almost like a baguette. And the flavor is incredible. There’s this deep, complex sweetness to it.” Apricot-colored with light green streaks, the ten-pound winter squash has bright orange flesh resembling pumpkin. Candy Roasters were originally grown by the Cherokee, and the squashes haven’t roamed too far from the Appalachians. These days, you’re most likely to find them at farmers’ markets in Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas between September and January. If you happen upon some, grab a few—they will keep for several months in a pantry. To roast, halve lengthwise and seed, then drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and top with sage. “They’re large, so a whole one is probably too much for a family of four,” Carter says. “You can roast it at the beginning of the week, and eat some the first night and save the rest for later.”

At FARM, the chef often works in Asian influences to complement the squash’s flavor (see recipe; if you can’t find Candy Roaster, substitute butternut or Red Kuri squash). As for any squashes you stash, don’t be surprised if they become even more candy-like. “When they’ve sat awhile, you can definitely tell a difference,” Carter says. “The sugar really intensifies, and the squash truly becomes perfectly sweet.” 


Candy Roaster Squash and Carolina Gold Rice Pilaf
Yield: 4–6 servings

2 cups vegetable stock
1 shallot
4 cloves garlic
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
2 Thai chiles
1 tsp. coriander seeds
4 allspice berries
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 cup Carolina Gold rice
1 cup Candy Roaster squash, diced
¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
8 mint leaves, chiffonaded

In a small saucepan, heat stock and keep warm. Meanwhile, process shallot, garlic, ginger, chiles, coriander seeds, allspice berries, and vinegar in a blender to form a paste. Heat coconut oil in another saucepan or a Dutch oven on medium. When hot but not quite smoking, add paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has evaporated, about 2–3 minutes. Add rice and toast for a minute. Add squash and the stock. Stir once and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff, and stir in peanuts, raisins, and mint. Season to taste.