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Squash Leaves

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Squash Leaves

Post  Wyldflower on 6/17/2010, 11:19 pm

I've mentioned, elsewhere, that I was reading Celia Brooks Brown's book "New Urban Farmer, from Plot to Plate: A Year on the Allotment" And in another thread, people have been talking about squash leaves. Celia kindly allowed me to excerpt from her book, where she tells how she learned that squash leaves are not only edible, but delicious. (Please keep in mind that her garden is in London, so adjust dates accordingly.)

Discovering the culinary merits of squash leaves was one of my all-time highlights of allotment life, and continues to be so. This came about a couple of years ago when a man drove up to the lottie in late August. As I was inspecting my squashes, he got out of his car, breathless, and said, with a heavy accent “I’ve been coming past for days hoping to find someone here!” I thought maybe he’d lost his pet or something. “Please,” he begged, “can I have some of your flowers?” “Which ones?” I asked. “Those,” he said, pointing to the squashes. “Oh, yes,” I said, “they are good!” “And please,” he said, “the leaves as well, and stems?” I’d never tried the leaves, so I asked him what he does with them. “Just chop them,” he replied, “fry onion in oil, add the leaves and water – that’s it. Soup! Or,” he continued, “just fry with garlic and dried chilli. The flowers – you can stuff them with meat and steam them, or make tempura. That’s the best way."

... So we’ve been feasting on pumpkin and courgette [summer squash] leaves ever since, whenever the plants get unruly and throw out tender young shoots. I try not to decimate the plant obviously, so it’s a fortnightly treat from mid-July onwards . The prickles do subside in cooking but you are left with a wonderful, lightly abrasive ‘mouth feel’ (a term I don’t like, but it’s the best way to describe it), and an inimitable big, sweet, earthy flavour.

Here’s what Celia indicates for when the plants are more mature:

Squash leaves will be dark and leathery by now, but the plants should still be throwing out new shoots. Pick from July onwards to control these domineering plants. Earlier in the season, even larger leaves are tasty, but by late August, stick to the small bright green young ones.

Wash all leaves and shred. Fry a generous amount of garlic in oil for 1-2 minutes, add the leaves and a pinch of salt. (They shrink considerably so don’t overdo the salt.) Stir for a couple of minutes, cover and allow to steam in their own juice, stirring occasionally. Depending on size, they may take up to 15 minutes before suitably tender and reduced. Serve hot with anything, or in solitary splendor. I love this as an appetizer, on its own.

Celia would love to have visitors to her website. Please check it out at
CeliaBrooksBrown.com

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Shoda on 6/17/2010, 11:58 pm

Really? The leaves? I heard about the flowers but I won't let my kids take them as I love the squash. But the leaves? Wow... what do they taste like?

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Wyldflower on 6/18/2010, 12:04 am

I haven't tried this yet, as my squash is just getting started. I'll surely have to cook some up when my plants can afford to give up a few leaves.

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Chopper on 6/18/2010, 12:39 am

Very interesting and considering the abundance of leaves it opens up a lot of possibilities. I wonder if they are any good stuffed, like grape leaves - reason enough to grow grapes in my opinion.

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Shoda on 6/18/2010, 1:54 am

Grape leaves.... hummmm... We have numerous grape vines and (silly me), I never thought of eating the leaves. We hardly get any grapes because of the critters but the leaves could be good. Does it matter what leaves or just yank any that look big enough?

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Chopper on 6/18/2010, 2:30 am

To me they are all good, but the more tender the better. They can also be canned for later use - in brine, I believe? That I would have to research. They have a very lovely and unique taste. There are numerous recipes for stuffed )rolled) grape leaves that may include any or all of the folowing: meat (lamb, beef or prok - lamb is my favorite), rice, pine nuts and more. I am sure you can get creative with it. They are SOOOO good.

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  middlemamma on 6/18/2010, 1:15 pm

I don't know much about the grape leaves thing, but I believe that it is a common greek dish to eat them stuffed. A greek cookbook or something might offer some recipes for that. Smile

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Chopper on 6/18/2010, 2:45 pm

@middlemamma wrote:I don't know much about the grape leaves thing, but I believe that it is a common greek dish to eat them stuffed. A greek cookbook or something might offer some recipes for that. Smile

Absolutely. The traditional dish is called dolmades or dolmathakia. There are variations and I am sure we could each create our own. Below is a typical sample. The herbs and spices vary also - typical are cinnamon, allspice, cloves, dill and mint. Other common additions are onion, lemon juice, currants and pine nuts. The "net" can give you plenty to decide on. It is a great dish for a party because they are individually wrapped and can be made ahead of time and in volume.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb or beef (raw)
1 1/4 c. rice (raw)
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice (level)
1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
juice of 5 lemons
5 T olive oil


Mix all above ingredients together.

GRAPE LEAVES: Pick 75 to 100 medium leaves early in season when they are
tender (avoid tiny ones). Cut stem off and brush clean in bowl of
water. If unable to pick leaves, jarred leaves can be purchased in a
Greek import store or most supermarkets.

STUFFING THE LEAVES: Steps to follow:Line
bottom of pot with large leaves. Stuff leaves on wrong side. Place a
little stuffing on stem side. Fold leaf over stuffing - bring one side
over, then the other side and then roll. Place in pot with seam side
down. Be sure to leave a little room for expansion of the rice - loose, but nit too loose.

When all stuffed leaves are placed in pot, cover with large
leaves. Pour seasoned water (with salt and allspice) over the stuffed
leaves. Place hand over leaves and press down to avoid leaves opening.
Bring to boil, foam may come to the top. Skim it off. Lower to simmer
for 1 hour. Take 1 stuffed leaf, cut and check to see if rice is cooked.

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  middlemamma on 6/18/2010, 3:10 pm

I couldn't remember what they were called...and I only ever had them once when I was about 17. But they were delicious...

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Megan on 6/18/2010, 7:01 pm

I've never tried squash leaves (yet! But I sense a new experiment for later this summer!) but I have cooked some of my radish greens this year. I was a little concerned about the prickles but they DO soften up... this gives me great hope for the squash leaves, too! Can't wait to try this.

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Chopper on 6/19/2010, 12:03 am

Picked some squash leaves tonight. Am going to try the stalks in a frittata in the morning. I will let you know...

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Lavender Debs on 6/19/2010, 12:29 am

@Chopper wrote:Picked some squash leaves tonight. Am going to try the stalks in a frittata in the morning. I will let you know...
That is a great idea. A frittata is always a safe way to test greens (err, or, leaves). Get your camera!

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Chopper on 6/19/2010, 12:41 am

@Lavender Debs wrote:That is a great idea. A frittata is always a safe way to test greens (err, or, leaves). Get your camera!

Oh yes! Heaven forbid any garden activity go unrecorded! I will.

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Shoda on 6/19/2010, 1:30 am

The stuffed grape leaf recipe sounds great. I will add it to the menu for this week and get back to you! Thanks for reminding me of them.

Also, I am very curious about the squash leaves. I mentioned it to my 11 year old daughter and she wrinkled her nose at the idea and said "But mom, they are prickly." I laughed and said I thought we would try the squash leaves cooked and hopefully that would take care of the those. She wasn't convinced.

Can't wait to hear how the frittata goes.

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Garden Frittata

Post  Chopper on 6/19/2010, 3:34 pm

Wyldflower, when I read that I did read stalks too I am sure.

As promised:
By the time I went to eat it was already noon so I made a lunch frittata instead - like there is a difference.

Ingredients:
roma tomato, chopped
1/8 of lg. onion, diced
1 leaf zucchini, chopped
1 stalk (from larger leaf) zucchini, chopped
swiss chard, chopped
a few leaves of basil

feta cheese
4 eggs

This was somewhere between an omelet and a frittata as I decided not to use the oven. It worked out fine.

I sauted the first 6 ingredients in olive oil. Then I mixed the eggs with the feta cheese. I did not use any cream, though you can, and any other cheese would do.

I figured the zucchini stalks would not take any longer than the onions so used them as my guide for doneness. When the onions were soft, I pour on the egg/cheese mixture and turned down the heat to low and cooked until set. Near the end I did flip it to insure the eggs were completely cooked.

It was GOOD! And the stalks were still firm, but not raw. The zucchini parts, swiss chard, and basil were from the garden. No roma romatoes yet more's the pity. The pics may be a little blurry - I did not have my glasses on while taking them. Had half for lunch and may just have the other half for dinner.








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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Shoda on 6/19/2010, 5:14 pm

Looks wonderful. Did you notice the prickly, abrasive mouth feel or did it get masked by the eggs and other ingredients?

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Chopper on 6/19/2010, 6:23 pm

@Shoda wrote:Looks wonderful. Did you notice the prickly, abrasive mouth feel or did it get masked by the eggs and other ingredients?

No prickly at all. One a little fuzzy, and I definitely ate some by themselves - picked out purposely to try.

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Re: Squash Leaves

Post  Wyldflower on 6/23/2010, 10:21 pm

Chopper, that looks WONDERFUL!
I'm glad to hear that you've tried the zucchini stalks! When mine are big enough, I'll try this recipe too!

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Re: Squash Leaves

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