Enjoy summer’s most prolific vegetable

Zucchini and summer squash are versatile and can be used in a wide variety of seasonal dishesEnjoy summer’s most prolific vegetable

    Now is the time to enjoy summer squash and zucchini, whether they are picked fresh from the garden or purchased at a local farmers market.
    Zucchini is a particular favorite of home gardeners. It is a prolific plant that can be used as a vegetable as well as in breads and desserts.
    Although the term summer squash is commonly used for different varieties of the vegetable, they are largely interchangeable.
    For best flavor, zucchini and summer squash should be picked young, when they are 6 to 10 inches long. Pattypan, a saucer-shaped squash, should be no more than 4 inches in diameter.
    Summer squash can be served raw with other vegetables as part of a platter with dips. It’s also good in salads, broiled, steamed, stir-fried, deep-fried, boiled, baked or stuffed.
    Zucchini and summer squash take well to grilling, too. It’s wonderful by itself, but is delicious grilled with some skewers of lamb, then slipped into a fresh pita with a little yogurt sauce for texture, flavor and color.
    Because of its mild flavor, it can be added to almost any main-dish recipe or pasta. Try serving summer squash on pizza, tucked into lasagna or in a stir-fry. Purée it and stir it into soup or spaghetti sauce.
    Use herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of mild summer squash. Dill, pepper, basil, marjoram, chives and mint are particularly well-suited to squash. It’s also delicious cooked with garlic, onions and tomatoes.
    When selecting summer squash and zucchini, pick those with firm, glossy skin that are fairly heavy for their size. They bruise easily and should be handled with care.
    Stored in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator, they should keep for a week.
    Freezing softens the flesh of the squash, but it will still be usable in casseroles and other dishes where crispness is not important.
    You can also shred zucchini and summer squash with a food processor or a cheese grater, then pack the vegetables into freezer-proof resealable bags for holiday and winter baking.
    Blanch cut up summer squash 2 minutes before freezing and store in the freezer for as long as 4 months.
    Following are a few recipes for zucchini and summer squash from craftycookingmama.com and skinnytaste.com.




5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 sprigs oregano
1 cup tomato puree or tomato sauce
1 small eggplant, thickly sliced
1 medium red onion, thickly sliced
2 medium summer squash, thickly sliced
2 medium zucchini, thickly sliced
2 small red bell peppers, sides cut off and halved
3 medium tomatoes, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    In a small pot, heat olive oil and garlic over medium-low heat and cook about one minute, until fragrant. Remove from the heat, add the oregano and steep 15 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic and oregano.
    Drizzle two teaspoons olive oil into the base of four small baking dishes or a 9-inch-square baking dish. Spread two tablespoons tomato puree in the bottom of the dishes, then layer the eggplant, onion, summer squash, zucchini, pepper and tomato in the baking dishes. Stagger the slices slightly, and make sure they are packed in tightly.
    Brush the remaining tomato puree on top, then drizzle evenly with the remaining oil. Sprinkle with thyme and season with salt and pepper. Place dishes on a baking sheet and roast in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender and beginning to brown at the surface and edges. Cool five to 10 minutes before serving.


Easy Vegan Pesto-Parmesan Spaghetti With Zucchini

For pumpkin seed pesto:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1-ounce bunch of basil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
For nut Parmesan:
1/2 cup unsalted hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
For pasta:
7 ounces gluten-free pasta
1/2 zucchini, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
Basil leaves, for serving
Arugula, for serving

    To make pesto, place olive oil, pumpkin seeds, basil and garlic in the bowl of a blender and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the ingredients are combined. Store in an airtight container covered in a 1/2-inch layer of olive oil as long as two weeks.
    Place hazelnuts in the bowl of a blender and pulse until it’s a chunky consistency. Transfer to a bowl and mix in almond flour and salt. Store in an airtight container for as long as two weeks.
    Cook pasta following the packet instructions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, then return pasta to the saucepan.
    Place zucchini and 4 tablespoons pumpkin seed pesto to the skillet and stir until the pasta is well coated. Serve topped with nut Parmesan, basil and arugula.

Skillet Pasta With Summer Squash, Ricotta and Basil

1 pound penne or rigatoni
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 summer squash, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups halved yellow cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

    Fill a large skillet with water and salt generously. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add pasta and cook according to the instructions. Drain pasta and set aside, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.  
    In the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté four to five minutes, until tender. Add garlic and cook one minute, until fragrant. Add squash and tomatoes, and cook four to five minutes, until both are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
    Add reserved pasta water to the mixture and toss well to coat, then add pasta and stir. Sprinkle in cheese and stir again to combine.
    Dollop ricotta on top of the pasta and garnish with basil. Serve immediately.


Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini

For sauce:
Olive oil spray
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 tablespoons chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2/3 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt
Fresh pepper to taste
For zucchini boats:
4 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 ounces cooked shredded chicken breast
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 tablespoons water or fat free chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
For topping:
3/4 cup reduced fa\t shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped scallions
Chopped cilantro

    To make sauce, spray oil in a medium saucepan, then sauté garlic. Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer five to 10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
    For zucchini boats, bring a large pot of water to boil.
    Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, then use  a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4-inch thick. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini into small pieces and set aside. Drop zucchini halves in boiling water and cook one minute, then remove from water.
    In a large saute pan, heat oil and add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for two to three minutes, until onions are translucent. Add chopped zucchini and cilantro, season with salt and pepper and cook about four minutes.
    Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, water, and tomato paste and cook a few more minutes, then add chicken. Mix and cook three more minutes.
    Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish, then place zucchini halves, cut side up, on top. Using a spoon, fill each hollowed zucchini with 1/3 cup chicken mixture, pressing firmly. Top each with 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce and 1-1/2 tablespoons shredded cheese.
    Cover with foil and bake in a 400-degree oven for 35 minutes, until cheese is melted and zucchini is cooked through.
    Top with scallions and cilantro and serve with low fat sour cream, if desired.

Sauteed Julienned Summer Vegetables

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8-ounce zucchini, cut into julienne strips
8-ounce yellow squash, cut into julienne strips
1 medium carrot, cut into julienne strips
Freshly cracked pepper

    Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the oil, onions and garlic and cook one to two minutes, until fragrant.
    Increase heat to medium-high and add the remaining vegetables, then season with salt and pepper to taste and cook about one minute. Stir and cook another one to two minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through yet firm. Adjust salt as needed and serve hot.
    Makes 4 cups.

Zucchini Tots

Cooking spray
1 packed cup grated zucchini
1 large egg
1/4 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup grated reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    Grate zucchini into a clean dish towel until you have 1 packed cup. Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini.
    In a medium bowl, combine zucchini, egg, onion, cheese and breadcrumbs, then  season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Place one tablespoon of mixture in your hands and roll into small ovals. Place on the a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray and bake in a 400-degree oven for 16 to 18 minutes, turning halfway though, until golden.
    Makes 16 tots.


Summer Yellow Squash Roasted in Lemon and Olive Oil

2 pounds summer squash
3 to 4 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground sea salt
1 large lemon

    Rinse squash. Cut off ends, then cut into quarters lenthwise into 1-inch pieces. Do not remove seeds or rinds.
    Place squash pieces on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until completely coated.Lightly sprinkle garlic powder, pepper and paprika over squash, then generously season with freshly ground salt. Squeeze lemon juice over squash.
    Bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until desired tenderness. Serve immediately.



Zucchini Fritters With Asian Dipping Sauce

For dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
For fritters:
1-1/2 pounds zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil

    For dipping sauce, stir together vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and pepper flakes in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
    For fritters, mix grated zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon salt and place in a colander over the sink to drain. After 10 minutes, transfer zucchini to the center of a clean kitchen towel, wrap towel around it jellyroll-style and squeeze over the sink until all the water is extracted.
    Place zucchini in a bowl and mix in egg, flour, cornstarch, garlic, remaining salt and pepper to taste.
    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, taking care that is does not smoke. Scoop 1/4-cup mounds of zucchini into the oil and flatten slightly. Do not overcrowd your pan. Cook each fritter about three minutes, until the underside is golden and crispy. Flip and cook another three minutes on the other side.
    Transfer fritters to a paper towel-lined plate, lightly sprinkle with salt and allow them to drain.
    Serve hot with dipping sauce.
    If you cannot eat the fritters immediately, keep them warm in a 200-degree oven for as long as 30 minutes. Reheating is not recommended as they will become soggy.

Baked Parmesan Yellow Squash Rounds

2 medium-sized yellow summer squash
Garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Wash and dry squash, and then cut each into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange squash rounds on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray or lined with foil or parchment paper, with little to no space between each round. Lightly sprinkle with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a small spoon to spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each slice of squash.
    Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the Parmesan melts and turns a light golden brown. Serve immediately.




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