Iran squash is an heirloom variety of winter squash which can be found in some farmers' markets and specialty grocery stores. The flesh of Iran squash is not as stellar in flavor as some winter squashes, but it can certainly be used in soups, stews, and roasts just like other winter squash. It also absorbs flavor well, making it a great addition to curries and other zesty dishes as it will bulk up the food while enhancing the flavor. If you live in a temperate climate, you can also try your hand at growing Iran squash.
The exterior color of the heirloom squash varies, from a silvery green skin to an almost salmon orange, and it may be splotched in color. The plant has flat ribs and often resembles a pumpkin in both size and shape; if you've ever wondered what the splotchy green pumpkins in your market were, now you know that you were actually looking at Iran squash. When cut open, the plant has orange to almost reddish flesh, marked with a collection of seeds in the middle.
One of the easiest and most versatile ways to prepare Iran squash is to roast it. Cut the squash in half, scrape the seeds out, and put the two halves face down in a large roasting pan. Add a small amount of water to the pan, and roast the squash in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) oven for around an hour, until a fork can easily penetrate the squash. Turn the squash face up for 10 minutes or so at the very end to caramelize the flesh and enhance the flavor.
Like other winter squashes, Iran squash has a thick rind, so it is not suitable for raw consumption, but it can be cooked in other ways. Some people peel the squash and cube it for use in stews and curries, for example. The squash can also be stuffed for roasting, or wrapped in ingredients like prosciutto and bacon for a rich flavor. Often a simple sauce like an herbed butter is all that is needed when serving the squash, but you can also get more adventurous, if you like.
Like many heirloom plants, seeds for Iran squash can be difficult to track down. Some specialty seed companies may sell them, but you might try posting on gardening exchanges to see if someone has seeds which they would be willing to sell or trade. Once you obtain seeds, start them indoors in the early summer until they develop into hearty seedlings. Plant the seedlings out in well conditioned, fertile soil in plenty of sun, and make sure that the soil is kept moist. As the plants develop, you may want to stake up the squash vines so that they do not rot where they touch the soil. In around three months, Iran squash will have developed on the vines. You can harvest it and use it immediately, or store it in a root cellar for around a month, and sometimes longer in the right conditions.