Yes, they’re shaped weird and come in a variety of different colors, but gourd vegetables are one of the delicious delights unique to this time of year. Often overshadowed by the king of the gourds – pumpkin – smaller gourds and squashes deserve a bit of attention too. Trust us, your palate and your body will thank us.
Try bottle gourd if you typically like squash and zucchini. The texture and consistency is very similar although the taste is less sweet and more watery. It is chock full of fiber which makes it a great cleansing vegetable for restoring and maintaining kidney and liver function.
If you’re more adventurous, you might try Bitter Gourd – an undisputed, yet relatively unknown super food high in antioxidants, B vitamins, calcium (twice the amount of spinach), beta carotene (twice that of broccoli), and potassium (double the amount in a banana. All you have to get past is the odd, bright green, bumpy appearance and, well, as the name suggests a noticeably bitter taste. Many liken it to the bitterness of asparagus or Brussels sprouts, although most agree the gourd’s flavor to be more pungent.
Ash gourd (also known as winter melon) is a long eggplant-shaped gourd with a smooth, greenish white skin. Found mainly in Asian food stores and supermarkets, the winter melon is treasured for its antacid/stomach soothing properties as well as its stabilizing effect on blood sugar. More delicate than other squash and gourds, ash gourd cooks almost completely away when boiled in water, making it a popular addition to soups, stews and stir fries. However, it is much tastier when not overcooked and allowed to remain lightly crisp.