GateHouse News ServiceIf you love zucchini, chances are you’ll love cousa squash. It’s a smaller, lighter-skinned variety of summer squash.
“Whatever you do with zucchini, you can do with cousa,” said Bonnie Miller, co-owner of The Pickin’ Patch in Marlboro Township, Ohio. “The difference is that cousa is a little sweeter and has a thinner skin.”
Plenty of cousa fans have been heading out to the pick-your-own farm this week to gather the tasty squash, often a favorite ingredient of ethnic cooks. Which is why the squash sometimes is referred to as Lebanese or Syrian zucchini.
“Mexicans use them a lot, too,” said Miller’s husband, Dave.
Patricia Karam of North Canton, Ohio, whose husband is Lebanese, was at the farm on Monday with her 11-year-old granddaughter, Samantha Rothwell. The pair picked several pounds of squash to make a favorite family recipe. Karam cuts the cousa in half, cores it, then cans about 40 quart jars of squash shells. During winter months, she uses the veggie to make Lebanese-style stuffed cousa.
“We stuff them like peppers, with meat and rice,” Karam said. “Except with our recipe there is no tomato, it calls for lemon, garlic, and celery.”
If you are not into canning, no worry. Cousa is great fresh, stuffed with any variety of fillings. See recipe for Cheesy Stuffed Cousa.
Cousa is four for $1 at the patch, regardless of size. Also ripe-for-the picking are red beets, cucumbers, pickle cucumbers, zucchini, black-eyed peas, and okra. Already-picked veggies include garlic (both sweet and mild), and a variety of onions (yellow, red, white and candy). Peppers and tomatoes are not quite ready for picking.
If you plan to head out, always follow the picker’s creed: Call first to check on crop availability. The phone number is 330-875-9227. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday; closed Sunday.
Cheesy Stuffed Cousa
6 cousa squash
1/2 pound bacon
1/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash on foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until soft. While squash is cooking, add bacon to skillet and cook until crisp. Remove bacon, and set aside, reserving 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings. Add onions to pan, sauté until just softened, and remove from heat.
When cousa is cool enough to handle, remove the stems and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the pulp and add to a bowl, leaving squash shells on cookie sheet. To bowl, add onions, crumbled bacon, and breadcrumbs. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide filling among squash shells. Top with cheese. Broil until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with paprika. Serves 6.