A few select WFM shoppers were already familiar with kousa; in fact, I was informed by a loyal WFM shopper that “kousa” is actually the Arabic term for squash. However, I was with the majority who had not heard of this member of the summer type squash family or knew the meaning of its name, hence I was not aware that I was being redundant when referring to this tasty vegetable (which, like the tomato, is actually a fruit because it is a vehicle for seeds – but I digress) as “kousa squash.” 🙂
Whatever it is called, it has, as do what we know as summer squash and zucchini, a mild flavor that stands on its own but also lends itself to a wide variety of seasonings. But, in contrast to those summer squashes more familiar to us, kousa is a bit more dense and thus has a more sturdy texture, with just a hint of creaminess, making it perhaps even more versatile than those types with the higher water content.
For example, the squash is dense enough to slice into sticks to serve with a dip along with the standard carrot and celery, and, according to the many recipes I saw online, as well as told to me by the few shoppers familiar with kousa, it works splendidly when sliced in half, scooped out, stuffed, and baked. “Boats” was the term used. Click HERE for just one of many recipes for stuffed kousa; you can get the ground meat for it right at our market from Lilac Hedge Farm.
For our cooking demo, I opted for very simple since, as the Market Manager, I had a few other things do to during the day. 🙂 Thanks to Assistant Manager Heather Tribe and super volunteers manning the Market Manager tent for making it possible for me to help spread the word about this tasty and versatile squash! The kousa, shell peas, tomato, and green onion came from Farmer Dave’s that morning.
Kousa “Pasta” and Peas
For the first dish, I simply grated unpeeled, raw kousa using long strokes on the largest hole side of a box grater. You can prepare as much as you want, but I grated 3 or so cups into a big bowl. Beforehand, Heather and I had shelled some peas; I simmered about 1/2 – 2/3 cup of the shelled peas for three minutes in about an inch of water to bring out the sweetness while I grated the kousa.
Next I added the simmered peas to the grated kousa and then portioned them for sampling, added a small bit of alfredo sauce to garnish. I had purchased the sauce at the grocery store the day before, forgetting that I could have used Deano’s Pasta’s wonderful sauces such as their new Onesto Cream Sauce, or, one of the tasty dips or sauces from Samira’s Hommade would have worked nicely as well. Next time!
We did not get a picture of this – it went too fast!
Simple Kousa Saute
My original plan was to make some sort of tamari-sesame-honey sauce for this dish, but, with such fresh veggies on hand, why mask their flavor?
This is another recipe that is flexible; you can use any veggies in any proportion and cut then to your preferred shape and size, but here is what I did:
After heating about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, I added about 3/4 cup of sliced/chopped green onion, using the white and some of the green stem, and cooked until a bit soft, added about 3-4 cups of 1 inch chunks of kousa, and tossed in the rest of the raw peas when I realized they had not all gotten cooked for the previous dish.
After a good number of turns of the pepper mill into the mix, I chopped a tomato into just bigger than dice size and added them, then seasoned it all with about a two teaspoons dried basil (I remembered afterwards that fresh basil was available – again, next time!) and a few pinches of salt. Once the tomatoes were heated through, I turned of the heat and served.
That’s it! So easy, so healthy, and quite delicious.
Here are a few more ideas: mix grated kousa with pasta or use in fritters in place of zucchini, or try it out in this Veggie Polenta Casserole from Farmer Dave’s. You could also try it in a fried or baked “chip using one of the many recipes for “zucchini chips” available online. Or, just slice it up and munch it raw for a quick snack. It’s all good.
AND: we had a number of brave young people try a bite and thus get entered into a free drawing for $10 in market bucks. Thomas Fratto can expect a call this week. 🙂