Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sautéed Bottle Gourd Squash (Ginisang Upo)

This recipe is dear to my heart. It reminds me of my adventurous childhood in the Philippines. My father had a penchant for gardening. Our garden was full of exotic fruits, red and green peppers, beans, and my favourite, Upo (Bottle Gourd Squash). Dad built a trellis over the vegetable garden where the Upo grew and hanged sporadically. I remember walking through that garden, pretending that it was Eden. It was a pure experience that brought so many great memories.

What a Throwback Thursday! Here I am posing in our garden in the Philippines, underneath the Upo vines, with my brother after school circa early 1988. Me as an eight year old and brother as a ten year. Oh, the memories... 
First, these gourds are available for purchase at Oriental markets. I've also seen these in Indian stores. Go out there and explore! Cutting and peeling this Upo was challenging. The peel was too thick for a regular peeler. The best strategy was to cut with a knife as if peeling an apple vertically, cut in half lengthwise, and then scoop out the seeds like one would scoop out a cucumber.
Sautéeing the garlic and the onions. So aromatic.
What I love about this recipe is the strong garlic taste in a tomato base. I actually put more garlic in my dish than the described recipe below. If you're not into garlic, use less.

Sautéed Bottle Gourd Squash (Ginisang Upo)

By Eleanor Arkhipova

2 tbsp olive oil
3 large cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion chopped
1 28 oz can organic diced tomatoes
1 medium-large upo, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Sautée garlic until golden, then add onions. Add salt & pepper then mix. Cook for 3 minutes until translucent. 
  2. Add organic diced tomatoes and mix. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add diced upo, mix, and then bring to a boil for five minutes.
  4. Mix and then bring to low heat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. The Upo will be soft when it's cooked.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Enjoy!

* Substitute zucchini for the upo and add green peppers for another yummy variation.

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