As the farm femme behind B & H Organic Produce in Caernarvon Township in Lancaster County, Erica Bowers Lavdanski has a great admiration for every last winter squash she grows.
“I love lots of things about winter squash. I love the versatility of either making a savory or sweet dish. I love how much energy is packing into each squash. They are great eaten on their own or to add to soups and roasted vegetables,” she says. “I love trying new squashes and discovering their subtle differences.”
Kitchen time with winter squash is obviously an adventure every round for Bowers Lavdanski.
“I find kabocha squashes to be the sweetest. Delicata squash is considered a desert squash in our house, but I made a great risotto with it just recently, and butternut is a great standby and is easy to grow,” she adds.
“Squash is very high in vitamin A. But, I personally love the amount of carbohydrates in squash,” she says. “I know carbs are not popular now. But for someone who burns a lot of energy and wants to put on winter warmth, I think squash is a great way to do it.”
Laboring with the land as regularly and as hard as Bowers Lavdanski does means carbohydrates are a much-needed benefit in the colder months.
And from her perspective, explaining what winter squash means to a farmer is important.
“To me winter squash is a triumph. As an organic farmer, there are many challenges to growing winter squash. Bugs, disease, weather—all the usual stuff. I start the seeds in late April and plant in the ground mid-May. Then we watch and wait. And wait. The plants get so crazy-big, you wonder how they will have the energy to produce fruit, and you can’t see the fruit underneath all that foliage. We usually plant all the plants in one patch, and it is impossible to see in the middle. In mid-July, all you can see are many bees coming and going, and you know that is a good thing. Then mid-August comes, and sometimes overnight the foliage disappears from disease. And sometimes there is very little there to harvest. But, sometimes there are fruits as far as the eye can see. And you know as a CSA farmer that you will make quite a few people very happy for the fall!” she reflects.
Bowers Lavdanski is happy to tie her winter squash crops into a dish she calls Winter Squash Baba Ghanouj.
“It makes a great autumn dish because it is very seasonal with the squash, and then this time of year, I usually have more eggplants than I know what to do with. Also, fall usually brings parties and potlucks and this is a great potluck dish,” she notes.
“This is great served with turnip slices, kale chips or stuffed in mushrooms,” Bowers Lavdanski says. “This dish makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It makes me think of spending time with friends and preparing to nestle in for the winter.”
- 2 cups pie pumpkin, butternut, kabocha or delicata, peeled and cubed
- 3 cups eggplant, cubed (removing the peel turns out an even better recipe)
- 4 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- To roast garlic well, roast it in a pan for about 10 to 15 minutes; once slightly cooled, mince the garlic.
- Use1 tablespoon of the olive oil to grease a baking pan and add the squash, garlic and eggplant; bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes until soft.
- In a food processor, blend eggplant, squash, garlic, remaining olive oil, lemon juice, tahini and sea salt. You may need to add a bit of water to thin the batch.
- Allow to cool; serve.