Aley Chubeza #77, July 25th-27th 2011

Don’t miss this week’s flyers in your boxes from Amit, featuring his hand-ground tehina “Kasumsum” You can order this delicious, nutritious treat via our order form or by phone/email.

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This week we continue our parade of extraordinary squash and pumpkins emerging from the Chubeza patch. After last week’s close-up on the acorn and kuri squash (this year’s crop has ended for now—see you next year!), the Musquee de Provence pumpkin, and the familiar butternut, it is time to focus on the final two members of the ensemble:

The spaghetti squash is one of the more unique squashes in the Chubeza collection. This squash comes with a touch of magic: after cooking, scrape out its skin with a fork and voila! The cooked flesh separates into strips, similar to thin noodles or spaghetti. It tastes somewhere between a squash and a pumpkin– not as sweet as a pumpkin or butternut, but sweeter than a squash. The neutral taste of this squash allows the “spaghetti” to be prepared as a true pasta dish, with a variety of options for sauces–preferably not a heavy Bolognese—as described below.

The spaghetti squash was not born of genetic engineering, nor even a hybrid or some modern development, but rather an actual heirloom that originated like the rest of the squash and pumpkins, from Central or North America. On the outside, the original ripe fruit is yellowish and elliptical. This is the variety we grow, which was popular in Israel 15-20 years ago. Several years ago an orange spaghetti squash was developed, termed “oranghetti,” fortified with beta carotene and with a sweeter taste. This variety, too, can be found in Israel.

Spaghetti squash recipes all begin the same way: first cook or bake till it softens (till easily pierced with a fork), then wait 15 minutes till it cools. Note that it is very hot when it comes out of the oven or pot, particularly if baked or cooked whole, where it’s practically burning inside. Here are tips for easy preparation, to be used with the recipes that follow:

Baking whole: Puncture the peeling with a fork, pre-heat oven to moderate temperature and bake the vegetable for an hour.

Baking in halves: Slice the squash lengthwise (to create two ellipses), remove seeds, heat oven to moderate temperature, and place the squash in a baking dish face down. Bake for one hour.

Steaming: Puncture the peeling with a fork, place small amount of water in pot, and insert a steamer. Place squash on steamer, seal lid tightly, and steam for 30 minutes.

Cooking: Bring enough water to cover squash to a boil, then place whole squash inside and cook for around half an hour.

Microwaving: Slice the squash lengthwise (forming two ellipses). Remove seeds and place face down in a microwave-safe baking dish. Cover dish and bake for 7-12 minutes.

Once the squash is soft, let cool. If prepared whole, slice lengthwise and remove seeds. With a fork, gently separate the flesh of the vegetable to thin noodles and place them in a bowl. Usually, the squash produces a surprisingly large amount of “spaghetti.” Sometimes the parts are greater than the whole… Make sauce for your “spaghetti,” such as tomato, pesto, aglio e olio or olive oil and fresh herbs. You can even sprinkle parmesan on it, or simply season it and gobble up! The small squash will keep whole for over a month in a cool place. If cut, cover with plastic food wrap and keep in the fridge for two to three days. Cooked “spaghetti” should be kept in a sealed container for the same amount of time. You can also freeze cooked “spaghetti” by placing it in freezer bags or sealed containers. When you want to use it, partially defrost and steam for five minutes till it’s warm, but not soggy.

The second vegetable of honor this week is the queen mother, the large and luscious Tripolitanian pumpkin. As it slowly, leisurely ripens, its color changes from green to cream. On the inside, it’s a bright orange. This is *the* pumpkin. One look and you understand why Cinderella’s fairy godmother chose it to turn into a magical coach. Of course, Chubeza workers who dragged the pumpkins from their patch (sometimes in pairs!) would definitely not rush to volunteer for a job as Godmother’s helpers. This pumpkin can be huge and very heavy!

We stack the pumpkins in our warehouse, forming a beautiful pile. Every week we slice pieces of this pumpkin, as the pile gradually grows smaller and disappears. For now, enjoy this lively orange! What’s nice about the pumpkin, which ripens in summertime but keeps till winter, is that it is duo-seasonal: in summer you can lightly stir fry or eat it cold, in a spread, or even raw. In winter you can add it to your stews and soups. Bon appetite!

We discussed the popular characteristics of the squash, a vegetable whose sweet flesh is a delight to eat. But deep inside this vegetable, at its heart, are yummy little treasures, the seeds. Our squash exert great efforts to produce the seeds, protecting them with a cover of soft fiber. Perhaps you usually scoop out fiber and seeds and toss them into the compost. But wait! Squash and pumpkin seeds are delectable, healthy and bountiful! Pumpkin seeds have been used as food for thousands of years, known as a remedy for worms as well as enlarged prostate. They are also delicious. They are usually roasted with salt, but also used to produce oil for salad dressings. The seeds and oil are rich in essential acids, vitamins B and C, minerals, protein, zinc and magnesium. Below are instructions for easy, tasty roasting.

But even if you love eating the pumpkin seeds, try to save some to seed in your garden next year (or sprout at home and watch how beautifully they germinate). Since pumpkins are picked at such a mature time in their lives, the seeds within them have already reached maturity and are ready for drying and storing. You can keep seeds from Chubeza pumpkins. Just wash, dry and store the dry seeds in a cool, closed place till the end of next winter.

And till then… it’s going to be a very hot week. We remind you all to drink up, and eat lots of cucumbers, squash and melons, which cool the body and supply it with important liquids. Take care of yourselves!

Have a good week, Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in This Week’s Boxes?

Monday: okra or yard-long beans, butternut squash,  basil, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, onions, lettuce . Small boxes: corn or melon

In the large box, in addition: eggplant or zucchini, scallions, melon, corn, pumpkin

Wednesday: lettuce or pumpkin, okra or yard long beans or cowpeas (lubia), cucumbers, parsley, tomatoes, basil, scallions, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, corn or melon, potatoes.

In the large box, in addition: eggplants or zucchini, onions, lemon verbana (louiza)

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods and sesame butter too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us soon.

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Spaghetti squash recipes plus pumpkin seeds:

Vegan Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash Frittata Fritters

Spaghetti Squash with Feta, Dried Cranberries & Almonds

spaghetti squash kugel

Spaghetti Squash Medley

Basic recipe for toasted pumpkin seeds

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