Summer time and the eating couldn’t be any easier or colorful. With so many vegetables in season, sides or main courses can be loaded with fresh produce. This was the week of summer squash.
Summer squash – yellow/crookneck, zucchini, patty pan, or chayote – have thin, tender skins, moist flesh and edible seeds. Summer squash is also a star when it comes to nutrition: low in calories, no fat, cholesterol or sodium and rich in vitamins. It is a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that may reduce heart disease and certain cancers. It also helps protect skin from bruising, heals cuts and keeps your gums healthy. Summer squash also provides potassium to help maintain a healthy blood pressure, magnesium to build and maintain strong bones and fiber to help control cholesterol and keep you regular.
If you are selecting summer squash check for tender, well developed and firm glossy, brightly colored intact skin. Blemishes is the skin can allow bacteria to get into the flesh and may not be able to be washed away. Extra-large summer squash, has a tough surface, large seeds and a dull appearance which makes it ideal for grating and using in baked goods. I like my zucchini or yellow squash to be young and tender, 2 inches or less in diameter and 6-8 inches in length, especially if I want to serve them raw or cook with them. Because patty pan is a unique shape look for product that is 3-4 inches in diameter, with a thin skin and smooth to bumpy texture. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper draw for up to 5 days.
Before using summer squash, scrub with a vegetable brush under cool running water and cut off the neck and base. Do not peel. Cut into halves, slices or cubes, then cook by steaming, broiling, sautéing, baking, roasting, frying or grilling. Or grate and use in quick breads, fritters or pancakes.
This week I made a side of grilled vegetables, a garden vegetable casserole, jalapeno summer squash quick bread, and some meat vegetable kabobs. Flavorful, versatile, tender and good for you: a super addition to the summer time table.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- Dash of salt
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
- 3 small carrots, cut in julienne lengths
- 1 large sweet red pepper, sliced into 1 inch strips
- 1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
In a small bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients together. Put aside 3 Tbsp of marinade for later use. Prepare vegetables and place in self-closing plastic bag, pour over vegetables; seal bag and turn to coat. Marinate 30 to 60 minutes. Transfer marinated vegetables to a grill basket; place on grill rack. Grill vegetables, covered, over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes or until tender crisp, turning occasionally. Place vegetables on a large serving platter. Drizzle with remaining marinade and serve.
Garden Vegetable Casserole
- 3 small red potatoes, washed and sliced thin
- 1 small summer squash, cut into chucks
- 2 small tomatoes, cut into chucks
- 1 onion, sliced thin
- 1 large carrot, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup seasoned croutons
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
In a small greased casserole dish, layer the vegetables in the order listed. Pour the stock over the layers. Baked, covered, at 375 degrees F for 1 hour. Toss the croutons with the butter and spread over the vegetables. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake for 15 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted and brown. Note: You can change up the vegetables used based on availability.