This is a cushaw. It’s the ultimate Southern winter squash. They were brought to the Chesapeake and Tidewater from the Caribbean and Latin America in the late 18th century and were made popular among enslaved people after their introduction from Jamaica. Also known as the sweet potato pumpkin, cushaw was grown as a sweet potato substitute until the crop came through. It stores well and keeps for months, it’s also delicious and was one of the hallmarks of the foodways of enslaved African American households.
Moschata pumpkins in Cuba 2014 (thanks Mike Beall). Note the sweet potatoes , cheese pumpkins and cabbages…same as Virginia in the 1700’s.
Fellow historic chef, Harold, harvesting a cushaw or sweet potato pumpkin in Williamsburg, Virginia, 2014.
Moroccan Cushaw Salad
1/2 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp of black pepper
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp of ground red pepper
Mix salt, pepper and other spices together.
Combine them with:
5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp chopped preserved lemon
3 tsp of orange blossom honey
Whisk and mix well.
2 cups of roasted cushaw chunks (Butternut is a decent substitute)
1.5 cups of white or yellow sweet potatoes cut into small chunks
1/4 of halved mixed olives (not from a jar!!)
Mix gently and allow it to combine for 30 minutes or more.
Serves 4-6 people.
Vegan option: use grade A maple syrup or light agave in place of honey.