Joni Sare, cooking instructor

Recipes, demystifying angled luffa and smooth luffa (loofah)

You probably have seen it, perhaps have even picked it up and wondered — what the heck is it? … and put it back in its place. I’m here to tell you — it’s tasty, it’s easy, it’s healthy for you.

The angled luffa (on left) and smooth luffa (on right) have healing compounds good for the digestive tract, nervous system, skin, hair, nails. Its cooling properties are good for bodies with inflammation, aches and pains, constipation, excessive weight.
In season now (here in Northern California) and on sale at the Monta Vista Market, Cupertino, CA (sale ends August 23, 2012).
See info at the end of this post.
Luffa can be found in most Asian markets and specialty markets, most probably near zucchini and summer squashes.

What are they:

What to do with them:

  • young immature fruit is:
    • peeled, seeds removed and used as other gourd and squash varieties  (such as zucchini, cucumbers, okra)
    • steam, braise, stew, roast, bake
    • slice, chop, stuff
    • use luffa instead of zucchini in breads, muffins
    • juiced (can be pounded, squeezed and strained), used medicinally
  • matured fruit is dried on the vine, skins and seeds removed, and the dried tangled pulp is:
    • used as a bath sponge
    • sliced and used as a cleaning sponge
    • sliced and filled with soap for a soap bar
    • ground and used in medicine

Recipes: see below

Selecting:     (angled luffa and smooth luffa)

  • Weight
    • heavier ones have more water content = better tasting
  • Skin condition
    • consistent pale green skin
    • unblemished, some surface spots are okay
    • deep dark watery spots should be removed immediately (can give the squash a bitter taste)
    • angled luffa should have unmarked ridges


  • Store in the salad crisper drawer


Angled luffa and smooth luffa

RECIPE #1: Braised luffa

This recipe is an easy and fast 3-step process. You can use angled or smooth luffa (or zucchini or summer squash … or any combinations). The big round smooth luffa is prolly best to cut it in quarters and then thinly slice’m.

1. Chop small and saute in skillet on medium to low heat for 5 minutes, stir often:      (no oil or water needed)

  • 1 onion (or 1 cup sliced leek, or 1 bunch sliced green onions, or 1 cup chopped shallots)
  • 1 bell pepper (any color) (or use 2 celery ribs, or 1 cup chopped bok choy)
  • 1 carrot

2. Add, stir well, cook for 10 minutes or until soft:

  • 1 thinly sliced luffa, first peel and remove the seeds  (or 2 cups sliced squashes, or 2 cups of any combination)
  • 1 to 2 tsp flavorings, or more to taste  (such as Herbs de Provence, or Garam Marsala, or Curry, or Chinese 5 spice, or Indian 5 spice, Thai spice, or Italian seasoning)
  • 1 to 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup liquid  (such as: coconut milk, or nut milk, or broth, or water)
  • Options:
    • add 1 cup chopped spinach, kale or other green leafy
    • add meat, chicken, etc thinly sliced meat, or ground meat

3. Serve with:

  • A bit of oil  (such as coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil, pumpkin seed oil, sesame seed oil, or other fruit, seed, nut oil)
  • Thinly sliced or chopped fresh herb  (such as: chopped parsley, or cilantro, or basil, or oregano, or gomashio)
  • Cooked cauliflower, or sweet potato, or rice, or quinoa, or pasta

RECIPE #2: Stewed luffa

Best to do a long cooking method — a stew — if the young luffa is beginning to dry out and the fibers are more prominent. Follow the same steps as above, but in step #2, add 2 cups liquid, cover the skillet and cook for at least 30 minutes, or put in a crock pot (slow cooker) with other veggies, lentils, and or meat.

Recipe #3: Slow roasted luffa

Another absolutely wonderful cooking method is to slow roast veggies. Here’s a simple, speed cooking (minimal hands on and minimal babysitting) method:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2. Put in lightly oiled 9 x 13 baking pan:

  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 luffa, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted  (or grapeseed oil, or safflower oil, or filtered olive oil)
  • 2 tsp sea salt

3. Cover with tin foil, place on the middle rack and bake for 2.5 hours.

4. Toss well and serve.

Serving ideas:

  • serve with fresh chopped herbs (parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme, basil, etc)
  • serve with pesto (any will do)
  • put on a rice cake


More recipes:

Monta Vista Market

21666 Stevens Creek Blvd.

Cupertino CA 95014

Store Phone: 408-777-0330

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About Monta Vista Market

Monta Vista Market is locally-owned and managed by Peter and Gail Yessne, long-time residents of Cupertino. They have been gardening organically in Monta Vista for more than 25 years.

As available, Peter and Gail plan to offer their Cupertino-grown produce for purchase at the store. While not certiifed organic, their vegetables are grown without the use of pesticides, hericides, insecticides, or chemical fertilizers. Peter and Gail use organic compost generated from their kitchen and garden waste, supplementing periodically with locally generated compost made with horse and chicken manure.

Monta Vista Market has also established a business partnership with ALBA, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, based in Salinas CA Two percent of the store’s sales is donated to further ALBA’s mission of training low income farm workers to become self-sustaining organic farmers. In turn, ALBA is a primary produce supplier to Monta Vista Market.

The employees at Monta Vista Market are encouraged to be knowledgeable in various aspects of organic produce and organic agriculture, so that they can answer your questions about use of vegetables, fruits, and other organic food offered at the store. If we can’t answer your question immediately, we’ll do the research and let you know the answer.

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