If you see something at the market that interests you, you should probably just go ahead and buy it. Even if you don't know what you will do with a new-to-you vegetable, freshly-picked produce will stay good long enough for you to figure something out.
I followed this advice myself a week ago when I picked up a gorgeous variety of potimarron, or winter squash, that stood out to me amongst M. Dormoy's veggies at the Marché Daumesnil. I'm glad I indulged that impulse, because when I went back today Mme. Dormoy told me that last week's harvest was the last of the season for this small green speckled delight.
I was disappointed to discover that the source of my new favorite squash was no longer an option. I had enjoyed the earthy chestnut flavor of this potimarron so much that I made the trek all the way to the 12th to restock with no success- an inevitable experience with seasonal produce. However, Mme. Dormoy assured me that other varieties of potimarron would have a similar taste and I noticed that stands at the market still had a selection of these pint-sized pumpkins for sale.
A word about potiron and potimarron, in my research I have found little by way of detailed descriptions of each of these appellations, or the difference between the two. What I have deduced (and readers please share insights and info if you have anything to add) is that the term potiron refers to any of the larger members of the winter squash family- usually predominantly orange or red in color and of grand proportions (think of your quintessential pumpkin). Potimarrons are smaller squash varieties, which have a rich nutty flavor and can come in a variety of colors, from orange to green.
Each variety is better suited to its own type of preparation in the kitchen, with potirons being best for soups and potimarrons being best for purées or écrasés. If you have a question about what squash to use for a particular recipe, my advice is to ask the farmer directly in my experience they are an excellent source of recipes and cooking advice.
I've identified the green potimarron that I bought and fell in love with at the Dormoy's stand as a Kabocha squash. This variety may be harder to find as the frosts set in, but for the moment I still saw a selection of the Red Kuri variety of potimarron, which is small in size and has reddish orange skin.
What: Poitmarron (small winter squash)
When: November 30, 2012
Where: Marché Daumesnil, 75012- from Jean-Luc Dormoy's farm (16 miles from Paris)
How: Cook the flesh of this small squash and remove the skin before mashing with a fork to make a hearty écrasé to serve as a side dish to an.
Ecrasé de Potimarron
1 Kabocha (or other variety) potimarron
3/4 cup crème fraîche, or heavy cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
Remove the seeds and surrounding loose flesh from the center of the squash. Wash the squash and cut into halves or quarters, not too small but small enough to fit in a pot.
Put squash in a pot that has about 2inches of water at the bottom. Bring to a boil and let cook for 20-25 minutes, until tender.
Remove from water (keep the water to the side in case you need it later) and remove the skin of the squash, it should peel off easily.
Mash the flesh of the squash with a fork, add the crème fraîche and keep mixing, the ecrasé should be meaty and thick, chunks are encouraged. Add spoonfuls of the water if needed.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.