The October full moon is called the Harvest Moon. I have yet to get more than a glimpse of the moon, which was full on October 4th, as we have had heavily-overcast skies and rainy weather for the last week or more. However, that didn’t stop my own little harvest from taking place. My unambitious vegetable garden included several varieties of squash vines, and the squash, in keeping with the season, are ready to harvest. Even if you know nothing at all about gardening, you can grow squash. While better care may result in a better harvest, you can nevertheless enjoy a taste of home-grown squash simply by planting a few wee seedlings in the spring and ignoring them until October. Winter squash (as opposed to tender squash varieties such as zucchini) will keep much of the winter. Simply store them in a cool, dry spot and there you go, a summer treat awaiting your pleasure.
The Iroquois grew squash, corn and beans as the ‘Three Sisters’, sustainers of life. Together, the trio provide a complete protein. The Three Sisters were traditionally planted together. The corn provides a support for the beans. The beans enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen, while the squash plants shade the ground, conserving moisture and keeping out competing weeds. One of my favorite fall dishes is called Three Sisters Mizithra. It is made with spaghetti squash, a fun variety that can tempt even youngsters who wouldn’t consider eating squash.
To prepare the squash, pierce it in a few spots to allow steam to escape, and wrap it in foil. Place it in the oven and bake it at 375° for 1 hour and fifteen minutes. After removing the squash from the oven, remove the foil and cut the squash in half lengthwise, allowing it to cool until it can be handled.
After removing the seeds from the centre of the squash, use a fork to scrape the squash flesh from the shell. The squash comes away in the long, spaghetti-like strands that give the squash its name. Combine 2 cups of cooked white beans (I use a can of white navy beans) and 1 cup of corn, and heat until hot. Combine these with the squash in a large bowl. You can also add diced bell pepper to add a touch of colour. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter together. Pour this over the squash combo and toss. Sprinkle with cheese, parsley and basil to taste.
The mizithra mentioned in the dish’s name is a kind of Greek cheese. I never have this on hand and usually use plain old cheddar, but other cheeses would make an interesting variation. Serve hot. Enjoy.