Photo credit: Betsy Jackson
Did you know that you can eat pumpkin shoots?! It turns out that throughout much of Asia and Africa, people prize the young leaves and tendrils of pumpkin vines. When raw, they are covered in a pretty thick fuzz, so it’s hard to imagine eating them, but if you’re willing to take a few minutes of prep time, they’re a delicious and unusual treat.
When cooked, they are tender and nutty, without the bitterness that many greens have. They taste like a wonderful cross between spinach, asparagus, and broccoli.
HOW TO COOK:
First, de-string their ribs. Snap the stem backwards so that the stem breaks but the tough, outer fibers do not. Use your fingers to gently peel back the tough outer fibers from the stem and the backside of the leaves. Younger vines will have fewer of these than larger vines. The leaves and vines are both edible and cook down quite a bit so prep more than you think you need.
Next, cook them. They’re delicious chopped roughly and added into soups or curries. They will cook down quickly, so be careful not to overcook them. They can be simmered with garlic and sliced onions in broth or coconut milk. You can also blanch them briefly and then saute them with garlic before tossing with chopped tomatoes and pasta.
Read more about how to prepare pumpkin shoots here.