Squash Leaves, Tips and Vines
The tender ends of squash plants are a memorably delicious green with an herb-like squash flavor. If you’ve got vines in your garden or have access to a produce stand or an Asian market that offers them, do give them a try.
Use up to eight inches of the vine stems with their leaves, blossoms (with the stamen removed), curly tendrils, and nascent fruits. The are similar to snow peas in texture, and the stems look like green penne rigate. Cooking melts their otherwise hairy texture and heightens their sweet flavor. Plan to use them within a few days of harvest.
Don’t worry about diminishing future harvest, as the pruned tips quickly grow secondary tips. And, when the first frost threatens, harvest all available tips and cook them up. As winter squash and cucumber vines have longer stems than bush-type varieties (like zucchini and pattypan), they yield a higher volume of greens. Compared to squash greens, cucumber tips have a slightly bitter flavor, but cooking mitigates it.
For the dish pictured below, I briefly sauteed an onion and carrot. I added chopped squash tips and sauteed them for several minutes, salted to taste and served them. Expect these greens to soften more quickly than would kale or cabbage. I substitute tips for any leafy green and generously add them to soups, braised dishes and stirfries.