Cushaw Winter Squash
Bibb & Butterhead Lettuce
Escarole or Frisee
This week’s share includes a piece of Cushaw winter squash. For those of you new to the CSA, we have included lots of information about them below. We make an effort to have these heirloom squash in the CSA share each year, as they have an extremely rich history in our growing region. They can grow very large and tend to do very well in our climate, as they grow quickly and are less susceptible to bug damage. In modern culture people shy away from large squash, as they are seen as inconvenient; but historically one of these squash plants could produce 50-60lbs of food. Whereas with our other squash plants we are looking at 10-15lb under great conditions. They were domesticated between 7000 & 3000 BC in Mesoamerica and have deep roots throughout Appalachia, Louisiana, and the Southwestern US.
The word cushaw is derived from an Algonquin word, although the plant itself ultimately derives from the indigenous peoples of Central America and the West Indies, possibly Jamaica. In Jamaica they replaced the edible gourds that West and Central Africans were used to. When African Virginians moved across the Piedmont into the Appalachians, they brought the sweet potato pumpkin with them, and like the banjo (Kimbundu: mbanza) it became part of Southern Appalachian culture. Cushaws are made into cushaw butter, pie filling, puddings, and are cooked on their own.The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty
Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity
The flesh is light-yellow; it is mild and slightly sweet in flavor; meaty in texture and fibrous. It is sometimes called cushaw pumpkin and is often substituted for the standard, orange, jack-o-lantern pumpkin in pie-making. The cushaw has a green summer squash flavor and scent to it. It has a smoky-ness in taste and is moist without being wet. It is used for both savory and sweet dishes and is great for northern climates because it provides vitamin C for the winter and stores very well. In some Native cultures, the seeds are toasted for snacks or ground and made into sauces and moles. The flowers are stuffed and/or fried. Sometimes the flesh of the fruit is used for livestock feed….. Author Lois Ellen Frank (Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations) cites the Akimiel O’odham and the Tohono O’odham, whose homeland stretches from Phoenix, Arizona, to east central Sonora, Mexico, as cushaw growers. The land is some of the hottest and driest in North America; cushaw, a heat-hardy plant, is grown there with the summer rain. In addition to the plant’s tolerance for heat, the green-striped cushaw’s large, vigorous vines are resistant to the squash vine borer, which kills other squash and pumpkin plants that aren’t protected with pesticides. This quality may account for the green-striped cushaw’s longevity—natives could count on it when other species didn’t survive.
Cushaw makes a wonderful base for a soup or coffeecake plus we have added recipes below. The squash pie made with Cushaw is one of the best pies we have ever made. This share also includes some dill, fennel, and chicories all strong tasting veggies that improve from the cold and are delicious when paired together. Escarole or kale chicken broth soup with loads of lemon will shine with some diced turnip and dill as well. Enjoy the share…..Autumn & Brian
Moroccan Cushaw Salad
(grab some sweet potatoes from Amy’s Organic Garden)
Rich Squash Pie – The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
1 cup pureed cooked winter squash
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3 Tbls brandy
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp mace
Preheat the oven to 425. Line a 9” pie pan with pastry dough. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth and well blended. Pour into the lined pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 and bake for 45-60 minutes more or until the filling is firm.