Welcome back to our series Market Fresh, in which we take a look at one ingredient that's showing up in the city's Greenmarkets right now and tell you what to do with it. Last time, we looked at hot peppers, and today we're cooking with squash vines.
Squash vines are, as the name implies, the leafy stem that a squash (summer or winter variety) grows from. The leafy green, which provides protection for the squash while it grows, doesn't have to go to waste—with a bit of care to make sure they stay tender instead of tough or stringy, they cook up beautifully, no actual squash required. We spoke to Williamsburg Francophile favorite Cafe Colette's chef Charlie Brassard about what he does with this unusual vegetable, which you can find in early fall at the city's Greenmarkets.
"Squash vines have a similar flavor to regular squash, but they tend to be a bit more vegetal," explains Brassard. "I balance out that earthy flavor by sautéing them with some cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic and chili flakes, then topping them off with some tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese and baking it in the oven until it’s bubbly and brown on top."
Charlie Brassard's Baked Squash Vines with Tomato Sauce
2 qt. squash vines
1/2 onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup tomato sauce
Breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese to taste
Trim the stems of the vines and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the squash vines for a couple of minutes, remove quickly and shock in an ice bath. While cooling, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, and add the chili flakes. Add squash vines and continue to sauté for another two minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until they lose their liquid. Add enough tomato sauce to cover ingredients and bring to a simmer. Transfer to an oven safe dish, top with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese, and bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.