The ads on this page help pay for tea, coffee, and the odd fancy ingredient

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What to do with Squash Leaves and Stems: 9 Gluten Free Ways to Use Squash Leaves (Tenerumi)


This post was originally published on August 18, 2013, but it's such a popular post this time of year I'm bumping it up so that those of you looking for ways to use up your squash leaves can find some suggestions.

Don't forget to check the comments section, as tons of people have been kind enough to share their wonderful recipes from around the world!!


Ever wondered if can you eat squash leaves? 

I noticed these big buckets of fuzzy, curly, decorative squash greens for the first time a while back at the farmers market. We eat a ton of greens, but I’ve never grown squash so it just never occurred to me to question if squash leaves are edible.

I asked the older Hmong lady selling them what to do with the squash leaves. She told me to peel the fuzzy skin off and boil them. This was rather vague, so as soon as I got my bunch home I scoured forums and blogs and found squash leaf recipes ranging from Hmong to Thai to Nigerian to Italian.

I’ve shared 9 different ways I found to make use of squash leaves and stems, as well as some tips for prepping and using them. So if you have pumpkins, zucchini or other squash spreading in your back yard, or you see a bunch of them at your farmers market, go buck wild with these ideas!


Tenerumi Soup


 1) Simmer in broth like soup. In fact, in Italy they call the leaves TENERUMI, and there’s a popular soup made out of it. I’ve actually made a version of it myself that I’ve included in my upcoming OAS Cookbook. It includes greens, noodles, carrots, baby potatoes and seasonings.


2) Sauté in oil or butter with a little bit of garlic and lemon juice, salt and pepper, serve on rice or as a side.


3) Sauté in a bit of fat, oil or butter and serve with chicken and rice.


4) Cook the leaves and chopped stems with tomatoes and peanuts and eat with nsima, a cooked cornmeal that is like a stiff polenta. (I found this suggestion on this gardening forum )


5) Cook squash leaves in plain coconut milk (Thai style). Here’s a basic recipe for this.


6) Cook leaves in coconut milk with some curry powder, rice vermicelli, hard boiled eggs, shrimp or chicken, carrots, lime juice and ginger, like a Singapore Lakhsa style soup (this is one of my favorite soups ever. I don’t have a specific recipe I use since it changes every time I make it based on what’s in the fridge and how much time I have, but you can get a basic outline from Rasa Malaysia’s beautiful blog)


On another food forum, I found the following three suggestions:

7) A stew made with sautéed leaves combined with ground melon seeds or crushed peanuts. (Nigerian style)


8) Alternatively, sauté the leaves with tomatoes, onions and scotch bonnets (a type of really really hot Caribbean peppers), and season with stock, salt, and dried crayfish (or shrimps). This is a scrumptious sounding Nigerian dish that I think I’ll have to try, perhaps minus the super hot peppers…


9) Or, sauté with onion, garlic oil, turmeric and red chili powder and cook for about 10 min.
Add shrimp, potatoes, tomatoes, or other veggies. 


10) Bonus! I assume that you can use these greens in most other recipes that call for steamed, sauteed, or cooked greens. 


11) Ongoing!! Check in the comments section at the end of the post for some great tips and international recipes from other readers :)




               Tips for Preparing and Using Squash Leaves


Storing Squash Leaves

Squash leaves are best used fresh. I've found that storing them in a container of water in the fridge with a plastic bag wrapped over them is the best way to keep them fresh for a couple of days. I've tried storing them without water in the fridge and in water out of the fridge and found they wilt quickly, so in water, covered with a bag, in the fridge seems best.


To Peel or Not to Peel?

Some recipes call for you to peel the scratchy skin off the stems. Others don’t, and indicate that long cooking times break down the skin. I don’t peel mine (seriously, who has the time?!) and it turns out totally fine.


Itchy Scratchy

Wear gloves if your skin is at all sensitive. Yup. These babies can be itchy, particularly if you happen to have oral allergy syndrome and react when certain fruits and veggies touch your skin. I carried my bunch of squash leaves home from the farmers market in a bag over my shoulder, and they brushed against my arm along the way. 

When I got home my forearm was on fire and I wanted to peel my own skin off, never mind peeling the squash stems. I pulled out the gloves I normally reserve for cutting jalapeno peppers and wore those to protect my hands and forearms. 
My red, itchy arm
 





Preparing and Using Squash Leaves and Stems

The stems can be a little tough, depending on how long they are. Trim off an inch or two from the bottom to get to the more tender stalks.

Wash thoroughly in a colander. 



If desired, remove prickly skin from stems using a paring knife or peeler (again, I didn’t and found that my long cooking time was enough to get rid of any prickles, but you can if you want).

Chop both leaves and stems into 1-2” chunks. 




Take photographs of the adorable curly vines that grow from the stems. 


Have YOU ever had squash leaves? If so, I’d love to hear how you eat them!   



54 comments:

  1. I had no idea you could eat squash leaves! Unfortunately, mine are always so covered in squash bug eggs that I won't be able to use them, but it's good info to know for emergencies. Thanks! (Squash bugs are my mortal enemies!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a shame! I wish I could offer some advice in your war against them, I hope you can get them under control :)

      Delete
    2. You can lightly tempura batter them deep fry as well as the flowers XXXL

      Delete
    3. Huh! I would never have thought of deep frying the leaves! Thanks for sharing that tip :)

      Delete
    4. If you cut onions and garlic and let them sit in water and infuse in your refridgerator, then strain it, you can put it in your bug sprayer container and spray your plants. Bugs hate it and steer clear of the smell. Don't water your squash very long...hand watering is fine. Depending on temperature outside you may need to hand water more often for hot days and less for cooler days. This kind of watering instead of the sprinkler or irrigation prevents white spots on the leaves. When the early light frost kills the leaves you can still harvest the stems and use them for food. If you put a tent of 6mil plastic over your squash plants you can prolong their life and get more harvest.

      Delete
    5. Oh, that sounds like a great tip, thanks for sharing! I've heard that garlic scattered around plants helps keep bugs away, but spraying makes more sense for plants with a lot of leaves.

      Delete
  2. Wow! I had no idea those tough, prickly leaves could be made edible! We have a squash plant that grew in our front yard, apparently from a seed that was in our compost. It is making one squash (looks like an acorn squash) so I don't want to cut its leaves off now, but I'll try one of these ideas later in the season. I'm pinning this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, who'da thunk it, right? I'm so glad I found this one out. Now all I need is a garden to grow my own squash in... ;)

      Delete
  3. I had no idea you could eat squash leaves and stems! Thanks for the tips, sorry to see your poor arm got a bit beaten up by them though! I'll set aside a pair of gloves to use if I ever cook some myself :)

    I found your blog through the Hearth & Soul Hop this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aurelia, thanks for stopping by! I don't know if others will have the same problem with the stems being itchy, I'm just really sensitive and things like geranium and ivy leaves (and now, apparently squash leaves!) really set my skin on fire!

      Delete
  4. This is great. We got carried away with squash plants this year and have loads of squash leaves, so I will have to give it a go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to hear about it if you try one of the ideas :)

      Delete
  5. I didn't know you could eat squash leaves! The look so pretty! (Thank you for the warning about how they can affect your skin though.) This is a great post, with lots of wonderful recipe ideas. Thank you for sharing it with the Hearth and Soul hop.

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I first saw the post on the Fabulously Frugal linky, I thought you typed in spinach, and then realized you wrote squash. I am a bit curious though since squash vines make me a bit itchy, I would worry about how my body would react.

    Thanks for linking up at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Barb, for me, the reason I itch is because I have oral allergy syndrome, which causes allergic reactions to certain foods related to pollens I'm allergic to. Raw squash (zucchini) is one of those foods, so the leaves cause itchiness. When they're cooked, though, the allergen proteins are usually destroyed, making them safer to digest. So although the raw leaves make me itch, when cooked they're totally fine - both internally AND externally ;)

      Delete
  7. Eating squash and gourd leaves is common in South Asia... it tastes great sauteed with onion, garlic and green chillies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds nice and simple, thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  8. Love the info, super happy finding this. I eat squash blossoms every morning since they have started booming this year. They are peppery and the small thorn hairs do effect the mouth when raw. I think you could treat the stems as you would nettle or even kale and steam them in broth and serve over rice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen the blossoms at the farmers market and always tell myself I'll get some next time, but haven't yet ;) One of these days I will! And yes, I agree, I think you could steam the stems too and they'd probably be great.

      Delete
  9. I sauté squash leaves all the time. Sometimes I add peanut butter or fresh cream and serve with pap meal.....A corn thick porridge. I come from Zimbabwe where pumpkin leaves are a delicacy. Really yummy and easy to prepare. Tip is to pick not so old leaves, wash thoroughly and always peel off the pricky skin (peeps off easily).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, peanut butter and/or cream and porridge sounds amazing! I'd love to try that, thanks for sharing, Patience (and the tip about peeling)!

      Delete
  10. I've made these into soup in previous years, using a spinach soup recipe. Although the lack of the spinach's characteristic oxalic acid should be a bonus, the result seemed a little bland - so your recipes are a great find.
    I've also used them instead of traditional kale etc in Gwyneth Paltrow's Green Rice recipe: steamed (or cooked in a wok with just their residual rinsing water) and added to 2 cloves of garlic and (3 large spring) onions, chopped finely and sauted in a little vegetable oil, plus 175g brown rice, cooked and then stirred in, along with 1.5 tbsp soya sauce and the greens.

    My courgette plants have been spending too much energy growing leaves, so I had a whole sack full of good leaves, even after cutting off the scratchy stems (which a friend wanted for making bee house tubes) and the thick leaf ribs. I may have to use several of your recipes to use them all up, even now they've been reduced in bulk by cooking and chopping.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for sharing your tips and recipe, Diana! What a neat idea to use the stems for making bee house tubes. I've seen them made out of rolled up paper, but using squash stems makes total sense since they're hollow. That's a great idea :)

      Delete
  11. Just what I was looking for. it has rained to much these past few months to get many squash but we have a lot of leaves. thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a joy to discover your blog and all those links to other sites.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I didn't know you could eat squash leaves and tendrils. Really, only now. And when I searched further, I found out that it's a staple in some parts of my country. :(

    Thanks for all the tips in handling and cooking them. I have a squash plant and it's been growing too fast! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy some of the recipes! I had no idea they were edible either until I saw a bucket of them at the farmers market and had to give them a try ;) Now I'm always on the lookout for them!

      Delete
  14. I found your blog when I was searching to see if anyone else was sensitive to squash plants. I have blue hubbards and yellow summer squash varieties and when I harvested a couple of the yellows, I got HUGE hives on my arm. I thought they were bites, but they went away that same evening. They were terribly itchy. Anyway, thanks for the article on using the squash leaves, it is interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, they make me want to tear my skin off! But I have no problems eating them cooked ;)

      Delete
  15. Thank you! I bought some squash blossoms at the farmer's market this morning, and realized that I had never given any thought to using the stems. I was thinking of putting them in with other vegetable trimming for broth, but now that I've read this post I am going to chop them up and slow-cook them with a handful of onion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Either way sounds great! I hope you enjoy them, they're a neat find :)

      Delete
  16. Thank you for all the info about squash leaves. I habe two plants on my balcony and they seem to grow hundreds of leaves. Really hope I will get at least one courgette in the end ;-).
    Do you know if the leaves may be eaten raw as well? Thanks again and greetings from Bonn, Germany, Nina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nina, the leaves are a bit abrasive raw - and I'm a bit allergic, so there's no way I'd eat them without cooking them! The stems are also a bit tough if not cooked/steamed. That said, I don't know of any health reason why you couldn't eat them raw if you were really determined to, but I imagine you might find them rough on the tongue and mouth ;)

      Delete
  17. If you like indian style cooking - one way is to slightly boil, make a paste with chilli, termeric, coriender seeds and corn flour and salt to taste and cook the paste in some hot oil or butter. Eat with boiled rice or chapati. Mukta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing that, Mukta :)

      Delete
  18. If you like indian style cooking - one way is to slightly boil, make a paste with chilli, termeric, coriender seeds and corn flour and salt to taste and cook the paste in some hot oil or butter. Eat with boiled rice or chapati. Mukta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, I love Indian cooking, and have a very large bag of turmeric in my cupboard right now! Thanks for sharing, Mukta!

      Delete
  19. In the Philippines squash leaves are cooked together with the squash itself. Squash is cubed, leaves and stems prepared as you have mentioned. Garlic, onions, and a teaspoon of sliced ginger are sauteed in pork fat (or olive oil as I do it here in NY), followed by halved fresh shrimps, and cubed aquash. When cooked, squash leaves are added, then 1-2 cups of rice water or chicken stock. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let boil then quickly remove from fire to maintain leaves' greenness. Best eaten with fried fish or breaded pork chops and steamed rice.
    Mila Balquin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one of the only recipes I've seen using squash with the leaves, and it sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing, Mila :)

      Delete
    2. Not only delicious, but nutritious. Think of vit A in the yellow squas and the nurients from the green tops. And very appetizing because of color combination. Try it. You'll love it.

      Delete
    3. Not only delicious, but nutritious. Think of vit A in the yellow squas and the nurients from the green tops. And very appetizing because of color combination. Try it. You'll love it.

      Delete
  20. In Kerala, India we use Pumpkin leaves (which look and taste similar) with grated coconut and shallots. Basically, saute the finely cut leaves and thinly sliced shallots (can add sliced/chopped garlic too if you like the garlic taste) with grated coconut, a pinch of turmeric powder and salt in oil (we use coconut oil. It takes just about 5 mins for the dish to be ready. We call it 'thoran' in our language (Malayalam)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds lovely! Thanks so much for sharing, I love seeing how many different recipes people from around the world have come up with for something so simple :)

      Delete
  21. By the way, you have a lovely blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm from Brazil and my mom (part Italian) used to cook pumpkin shoots along with the young leaves by finely chopping them, adding some salt and pepper then sautéing in oil and garlic for about 5-6min and serve with polenta! Delicious!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds lovely, nice and simple! Thanks for sharing :)

      Delete
  23. I had no idea as well! I jave plantwd squash this year, the leaves and stems are so big, so it made me wonder if we can eat them. I fot this site on Google. Thanks for all the great info. My family and i will be eating more yummy greens in our diet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you found the post helpful! I hope you enjoy your squash leaves :)

      Delete
  24. I touched the hairy stem,kind of prick my skin,ouch,suddenly afew days later both my hand,leg,body feeling so itchy for a week plus till today. How to stop this itch,what medication to use,, please help,,thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, are you sure you're still reacting to the squash after all this time? You should check with your doctor if you're having such a severe, prolonged reaction. Otherwise, I avoid skin contact with the leaves and stems, and for immediate reactions I take Allegra for allergies (others like Benadryl, too), and I have a Benadryl cream to rub on my skin for itchy reactions (also for bug bites). I hope that helps!

      Delete

I'd love to hear from you so go ahead, leave a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...