Squash is a kitchen gardener’s dream. It’s easy to find plants; and they grow easily, even from seed. Plus, each plant produces so many vegetables that your kitchen will overflow with their fruits. I often see squash plants on patios and in flowerbeds, as well as planted among friendly shrubs. If you love summer vegetables that are fresh from the farmers’ market or your own patch, this article is for you. Summer squash will be in great supply well into September. And, make a note to yourself: if you do not already grow your own squash, you will want to incorporate it into your plans for next year’s planting. Just a few healthy, well-maintained plants will produce an abundant yield.
Summer squash should be harvested when they are small and tender. The elongated varieties should be picked when they are no more than 2-3 inches in diameter and 6-8 inches long. Round varieties, such as Patty Pan, should be harvested when they are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Larger squash may be salvaged by hollowing out the flesh and stuffing them for baking, or they may be grated and used in baking.
Choose squash that are without bruises or scratches; and be sure to handle them with care. Whenever possible, they should be used immediately after picking. To store squash, place them (unwashed) in plastic bags and store them in the refrigerator. Wash them just before using. You should always plan to use summer squash within two or three days.
Because squash is so versatile, it may be grilled, steamed, boiled, sautéed, fried and baked. You can create stir fries and gratins, as well as soups and stews that are deliciously enhanced with the addition of wonderful summer squash. Squash also mixes well with other summer vegetables; and its flavors are heightened with the judicious additions of marjoram, dill, parsley, rosemary, cumin or thyme. As you experiment with summer squash, remember that what grows together, goes together.
Squash blossoms have become very popular. They are edible flowers that may be eaten raw or cooked. They may also be battered and fried in a little oil, and make wonderful appetizers or salad additions. When stuffed with a delightful cheese spread, they may even make for a fine first course. When choosing, the stem of a male blossom is thin, while the female stem is thick and may bulge below the petals to exhibit the developing squash.
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
It’s not until you begin to tire of squash that you can imagine sacrificing a blossom before it’s a vegetable. That is, until you’ve tried stuffed squash blossoms! This is a great way to limit your crop while maximizing your enjoyment. For another delicious treat, try stirring squash blossoms into your favorite risotto recipe at the end.
12 squash blossoms, rinsed, stamens removed, and stems trimmed to 1 inch
4 ounces (a small log) of fresh goat cheese
2 T heavy cream
2 T chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup full flavored beer
Mash cheese, cream, tomatoes and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff each blossom with a heaping teaspoon of cheese, and then twist the ends to seal. Refrigerate until chilled through. Whisk flour and beer together. Holding each flower by the stem, carefully dip chilled blossoms into batter and fry in hot oil. Sprinkle with salt, then drain on paper towels.
Roasted Vegetable Caponata
1 medium eggplant
2 medium summer squash or zucchini
2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
½ cup mixed chopped fresh parsley, basil and oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut eggplant and squash into ½ inch dice. Toss with tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper; and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until eggplant is soft. Toss vegetable with herbs and cook 5 minutes longer. Add chopped olives and vinegar. Adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm, or at room temperature on fresh or toasted French bread.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup steamed squash, mashed
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup nuts, chopped
Combine butter, sugar, molasses, egg and squash in a mixing bowl. Combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients in three batches to squash mixture, mixing well between additions. Fill 12 greased muffin tins half full. Bake in preheated 375 ° oven 20 min.
Lentils, Rice and Garden Vegetable Salad
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4-cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh herbs, minced
2 garlic cloves, microwave 1 minute
2 ears of fresh corn, blanched and cut from the cob
2 medium vine ripened tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups yellow squash, diced
1 pound green beans, blanched, shocked and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Combine lentils and rice.
Microwave garlic cloves in water for 1 minute; drain, smash and add to olive oil.
Add olive oil, vinegar, and fresh herbs and stir to combine.
Add prepared vegetables: corn, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, squash, green beans or other vegetables of your choice.
May be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and is best served at room temperature.
3 Sisters Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups yellow squash, sliced
2 cups zucchini, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
2 cups cannelloni beans, rinsed if canned
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup green chilies or 1 (3 oz) can green chilies
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices sour dough bread
4 slices Provolone cheese
4 tablespoons sour cream
4 teaspoons chives
In a large, deep skillet with a top, sauté onion, squash, zucchini, bell pepper and garlic in oil.
Add corn, beans, chilies, herbs, broth, salt and pepper and broth; and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
To serve, place a slice of sour dough bread in each of 4 ramekins.
Pour stew over bread and cover with a slice of Provolone cheese.
Bake in 400° oven until cheese melts.
Garnish with sour cream and chives.
Double pie crust
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 eggplant, peeled, sliced, salted, drained, rinsed and drained again
2 cups mushroom caps
2 cups yellow squash
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup goat cheese
Prepare double piecrust. Thinly slice vegetables and sauté them quickly in olive oil, in order given. Add thyme, salt and pepper, drain on paper towels. Brush pastry with beaten egg; place half sautéed vegetables in bottom of tart crust, add goat cheese, and another layer of vegetables. Place top crust over all; make vent holes in top crust and brush with egg wash. Bake in 400° oven 30 minutes; cool before serving. This recipe makes a great vegetarian entrée or the perfect side to accompany a buffet table or potluck.
Marinated Grilled Vegetables
4 patty pan squash, halved or quartered
4 baby zucchini, halved
1 bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into eighths
1 fennel bulb
8 pieces cauliflower, 2 inch size
Marinate all vegetables in oil and your favorite herbs
Place in a grill pan on a hot grill and shake occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes, until caramelized.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to serve.
Grill extra vegetables for a cream soup later in the week.
Refrigerate extra vegetables as soon as they are cool.
Yellow Velvet Succotash
2 cups yellow squash
1 summer onion, chopped
4 ears of sweet corn
1/2 cup light cream
2 tablespoon butter
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Sauté squash and onion in tablespoons butter until soft and tender.
Cut corn from the cobs, directly into the sauté pan, when squash is almost done.
Stir, cooking 3 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of light cream, salt and pepper to taste. This is delicious by itself or as a pasta sauce.
Caramelized Summer Squash
6 cups tender yellow squash, 1/2 inch slice
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter or oil
Melt butter in a skillet; add squash and onion.
Sauté over medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Summer Squash on the Grill
3 small summer squash, yellow and or zucchini, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
Split squash in half and brush with oil and seasoning.
Place on hot grill and cook about 4 minutes per side.
2 c yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
Coat a 3 cups gratin or shallow baking dish with Pam.
Beginning with squash, create alternating layers of squash and onions, salt and pepper each layer.
Melt butter in cream; and stir in nutmeg.
Pour over squash and cover with bread crumbs.
Bake at 350° for 40 minutes, until squash is tender and the top is golden.
Roasted Stuffed Vegetables
4 small yellow squash
4 medium fresh onion, green tops removed
4 small tomatoes, cored, seeded and drained
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced in half lengthwise
5 cups fresh bread crumbs,
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Blanch squash 3 minutes, shock and drain; remove some pulp from round end with melon baller.
Boil fresh onions, tops removed, about 10 minutes, remove center with peeler.
Blanch red bell peppers about 5 minutes, peel and seed, cut in half lengthwise.
Core seed and drain tomatoes.
Place vegetables in buttered baking dish.
Chop trimmings from vegetables and mix with breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper, parsley and cheese.
Stuff each vegetable and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake about an hour in 350° degree oven.
2 medium squash
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoon seasoning salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
Wash squash and slice 1/2 inch thick.
Coat in seasoned flour and allow sitting for 5 minutes.
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
Dust squash slices again, just before putting in pan.
Fry slowly, turning once until each side is golden brown.
Drain on paper towel and serve while hot.
Delicious served with batter-fried okra and fried green tomatoes.
Squash and Corn Fritters
Into a large bowl, cut 1 cup of fresh corn from the cob and scrape cob to extract any juices. Dice 1-cup young, tender summer squash (yellow or zucchini) into the bowl, adding 1/2-cup milk and 2 beaten, large eggs. Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne and 1 minced jalapeno (optional). Add dry ingredients to corn mixture and stir only until combined. Batter will be thick. Pour peanut oil, 3/4 inch deep into heavy skillet. When oil is hot, add 1/4 cup batter into the oil; don’t crowd the fritters, they should not touch. Turn once, when bubbles appear consistently across top of fritter. Remove from pan when brown on both sides, and place on a small grid, wire rack and into the oven until all fritters are cooked.
These are delightful when served with a salad for lunch or with salsa for a side dish.