11 July 2016

Cooking squash tendrils

This year I am growing a couple of varieties of winter squash - potimarron and crown prince. Both have a trailing habit, and can cover a vast amount of ground. I recently came back from a week's holiday to find the squashes stretching out across my cauliflowers, onto the lawn and up an apple tree. Some intervention was obviously required. I cut back the squashes' growing tips in an attempt to dissuade them from growing further. This also has the beneficial effect of encouraging the plants to put more energy into developing its fruit. But what to do with the cuttings? Are squash tendrils edible?

Winter squashes gone crazy

I'd read in Giorgio Locatelli's fantastic book Made in Sicily that Sicilians eat squash tendrils, know in Italian as tenerumi. So I thought I'd give them a go. They were surprisingly tasty, with a flavour a bit like courgette, but with a green freshness, a bit like spinach. Both the stalks and leaves can be eaten.

Squash tendrils

How to cook squash tendrils

I imagine squash tendrils can be cooked in a variety of ways, but this is how I did it.

Cut the squash tendrils off about 10-12 inches from their tip.

Blanche for about 1-2 minutes in boiling salted water, then refresh in a bowl of iced water. Dry thoroughly with kitchen paper or on a cloth. Chop into inch-long lengths.

Meanwhile, finely slice a garlic clove and half a chilli. Sauté gently in a little extra virgin olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add a tomato which has been neatly diced, then the chopped squash tendrils. Cook for a couple of minutes more, season and serve.

Sautéed squash tendrils with tomato, chilli and garlic

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