Community Recipes Restaurants

Winter Squash

 

The change of seasons is upon us here in British Columbia, and that means new autumnal vegetables are taking the place of summer’s harvest. Where we once had beautiful, soft-skinned zucchini’s, we now have large, hard-skinned winter squash. Winter squash are varieties of squash that have different looks and flavours, but they are all very healthy for you. Check out your local farmer’s market this week to pick up some winter squash. They make for great side dishes, as well as soups, and provide a pleasant autumn aesthetic to any kitchen.

Winter squash varieties that have a sweeter flavour are red kabocha, butternut, sweet dumpling, and blue hubbard squash. Mild flavoured winter squash varieties are buttercup, acorn, and spaghetti squash. Squash with more earthy flavours are kabocha (green), delicata, and red kuri squash. Red kuri has a chestnut-like flavour.

Squash are a very healthy food. They are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and manganese. They are a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, tryptophan, and various B vitamins. They are also low in calories.

You can bake the flesh of the squash to make a delicious and hearty side dish. It is also quite easy to prepare. You preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. As a helpful hint, put the whole squash in the preheating oven for about 7 minutes to soften the gourd, making it easier to cut the squash. Once you remove the squash from the oven, using a towel because it will be hot, you cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp with a large metal spoon. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush with one tablespoon of canola oil and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Place the squash on the parchment paper, flesh-side down. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the squash over and put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the flesh is soft. When you turn the squash over, it is optional to add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of brown sugar to the flesh-side to sweeten the squash.

Like pumpkin seeds, you can roast winter squash seeds to make a delicious and healthy snack. Simply place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.

Squash can be kept through the winter if certain conditions are met. For one, you must buy a near-perfect squash. This means the squash has no bumps or bruises, and the stem is still attached. They store best in dry air. They do not like cold or damp conditions. If stored correctly, most squashes will survive into the spring.

If you are in Vancouver and looking to eat some squash, you have a couple of options. East is East has two locations, one on West Broadway and another on Main Street. They serve a sambar (butternut) squash soup. Bandidas Taqueria on Commercial Drive has many squash options, including the “Stella”, “Dani’s” enchilada, and “Sophie’s Poblano.” Try either of these restaurants for delicious squash options, or, better yet, buy some local squash from the farmer’s market and try experimenting in the kitchen with this delicious autumn crop.

 

Websites consulted for this article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_squash

http://www.epicurious.com/archive/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visual-guide-winter-squash

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63#nutritionalprofile

http://www.eastiseast.ca/index.html

http://www.bandidastaqueria.com/index.htm

http://www.almanac.com/blog/celestes-garden/winter-squash

Community Gardening Restaurants

Radishes

 

Radishes are an easy crop to grow and cultivate. They are a good beginners crop, and should be attempted if you are new to gardening. Radishes grow best in a cool climate, making it a very successful crop around the lower mainland. The ideal air temperature for radish growth is between ten and eighteen degrees Celsius, making late spring and early autumn the best times to plant and harvest radishes. They grow rapidly and, in proper conditions, will only take three to four weeks to mature. They can take up to eight weeks to mature in colder temperatures. Since they mature so quickly, radishes can be continually planted and produced through their growing season. Plant more radishes every two weeks to continue their harvest. It can also be beneficial to thin your radishes to about an inch apart, this will allow the radishes to grow larger. Considering how quickly they mature, do not worry about pulling some radishes because you can always plant more while the temperature is still right. They are also great accompaniment plants. Their strong odour will repel many pests from your garden, such as cucumber beetles, tomato hornworms, and squash bugs. Radishes work well with other vegetable crops, and they seem to thrive when grown in close association with cucumbers, lettuce, peas, and chervil.

Radishes are consumed throughout the world. They are an ideal addition to salads because of their crunchy texture and various colours. You will find radishes that are red, white, yellow, purple, and even black. Radishes are low in calories, with only sixteen calories in every one hundred gram serving. Also, in the same size serving, radishes provide you with eighteen percent of your daily vitamin C intake. Normally only the swollen taproot is eaten, but the entire plant is edible and the leaves are sometimes steamed as a leafy green or used in soups and stews. The taproot itself, although usually eaten raw, can also be steamed to make a tasty vegetable side dish.

If you are in the Vancouver area, there are many restaurants mixing fresh radishes into their dishes. Fable, on West 4th, has radishes in their green salad. España, on Denman Street, has a beet, radish, and labnah salad and they also include radishes in their roast pork belly and octopus appetizer. For a more unique, radish centered dish, try Happy Valley Seafood Restaurant, on West Broadway, which serves fried radish cakes.

You can buy farm fresh radishes at nearly any farmer’s market around British Columbia right now. The UBC farmer’s market certainly has fresh radishes, as it is where I took this article’s photo this past weekend. You can also buy radish microgreens that are grown by SkyHarvest, Canada’s only certified organic urban farm. These microgreens are found at Choices Market, which has locations in Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano, Yaletown, and Commercial Drive. Local farms are also growing radishes right now. Stop by Cropthorne Farm in Delta, Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm in Chilliwack, Howard Wong Farms in Matsqui, KBF Nursery and Farm Market in Abbotsford, Mary’s Garden in Surrey, or Ralph’s Farm Market in Langely to buy fresh radishes directly from the farmers.

 

Websites consulted for this post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radish

http://www.almanac.com/plant/radishes

http://www.espanarestaurant.ca/menu/

http://fablekitchen.ca

http://skyharvest.ca

http://www.bcfarmfresh.com/farm-products/radishes/

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g154943-d878121-Reviews-Happy_Valley_Seafood_Restaurant-Vancouver_British_Columbia.html

 

Community Restaurants

IMG_0465

 

Zucchini is a delicious vegetable that can be found at farmer’s markets across British Columbia right now. It can also be bought at some local farms around the lower mainland. Zucchini works as a side dish as well as in desserts. There are some restaurants in Vancouver that seasonally serve up special zucchini flower dishes. These blossoms are tough to find but worthwhile to seek out.

Zucchini is ready to be harvested in August, September, and October. Usually, for culinary purposes, a zucchini is harvested when it is less than twenty centimeters in length. Given their ability to grow in temperate climates, zucchini can become overwhelmingly large in home gardens around British Columbia. An over-sized zucchini can often become fibrous and more bitter than a smaller zucchini.

You can buy zucchini at nearly any farmer’s market in British Columbia through September. If you are in the lower mainland, you can also buy fresh zucchini from a variety of local independent farmers. Bloomers in Maple Ridge, Cropthorne Farm in Delta, Croft Produce in Mission, Dave’s Orchard in Langley, and Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm in Chilliwack are all selling fresh zucchini.

When cooking zucchini on its own, little more is required than oil, butter, and some salt and pepper. Zucchini is also a main component in ratatouille – a stewed vegetable dish of French origin. With its sweet flavour, zucchini also works well in desserts. Chocolate zucchini cake is a big hit with kids, and they are unlikely to even notice the vegetable within the dessert.

Zucchini is also very healthy for you. They are very low in calories, containing only seventeen calories per one hundred grams. They also contain folate, potassium, and provitamin A. Folate helps the body create DNA and red blood cells. Potassium can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Provitamin A helps you maintain good vision and a strong immune system.

If you are at the market and see a zucchini with a flower still attached, buy that zucchini. The flower is the sign of a truly fresh and immature zucchini that is distinguished by its sweet flavour. The flower itself can be eaten and is considered a delicacy. The flowers are seasonal and only appear on a young zucchini, and as such they will not be commonly found on many restaurant menus. However, there are restaurants around Vancouver that have had stuffed zucchini flowers as a special and you may be lucky enough to try one if you go on the right night. Restaurants like Cioppino’s on Hamilton Street, Ask for Luigi on Alexander Street, and Cibo Trattoria on Seymour Street all have been known to serve stuffed zucchini flower appetizers when in season.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zucchini

https://cioppinos.wordpress.com

http://www.askforluigi.com

http://www.cibotrattoria.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille

http://www.bcfarmfresh.com/farm-products/zucchini/