Enjoy summer’s most prolific vegetable

Zucchini and summer squash are plentiful and add variety to many of this season’s favorite foods

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 two minutes before freezing and store in the freezer for as long as four months.

Following are a few recipes for zucchini and summer squash from kalynkitchen.com.


Zucchini and Yellow Squash Soup With Rosemary and Parmesan

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon Italian herb blend
4 teaspoons chopped fresh or frozen rosemary
3 pounds diced green and yellow summer squash
6 to 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Heat olive oil and butter in large heavy soup pot or stovetop pressure cooker. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, until translucent and softened. Add garlic, rosemary and Italian herb blend and cook three to five minutes.
    Chop enough zucchini and yellow squash to make 8 cups.
    Add stock to onion mixture and simmer 10 minutes, using six cups stock for pressure cooker or eight cups for stovetop. Set an electric pressure cooker to saute when simmering the stock.
    Add the chopped zucchini and yellow squash. For stovetop cooking, turn heat to very low and simmer 30 minutes, until squash is very soft and flavors are well blended. For electric or stovetop pressure cooker, lock the lid, choose manual and high pressure settings and cook five minutes. Use the quick-release method to release the pressure after the time is up.
    Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture or work in batches to puree in food processor or blender. Don’t fill them too full when blending hot liquids.
    When mixture is pureed, check the consistency of the soup. Simmer about 20 minutes, until the soup is reduced and as thick as you’d like it.
    Season to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper and serve soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, if desired.


Val’s Easy and Amazing Yellow Squash With Tomatoes and Parmesan

3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
4 to 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 medium or 3 small yellow summer squash
1 cup cherry or grape tomato halves
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

    Cut both ends off squash, then cut lengthwise into halves or quarters if the squash is large, then slice into 3/4 to one-inch slices.
    Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Saute onion pieces two to three minutes, until they start to soften but aren’t browned. Add garlic and saute one minute, then add the squash pieces and remaining oil, if needed.
    Cook over medium-high heat, turning often, six to eight minutes, until the squash is cooked through, starting to brown but still slightly crisp.
    Stir in the cherry tomato halves and cook one minute, just until the tomatoes are warmed. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and serve immediately.


Garlic-Lover’s Vegetable Stir Fry With Eggplant, Zucchini and Yellow Squash

1-1/2 pounds zucchini, yellow squash, and/or eggplant
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 onion, sliced top to bottom in strips about 1/2-inch wide
1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons oyster sauce

    Cut vegetables into pieces that are the same size and same shape, cutting away the inner seeds from squash and larger eggplant before cutting them into short strips about 1/2 inch wide.
    Heat wok or frying pan on the stove one to two minutes, until it’s too hot to hold your hand over it. Add oil and heat about 30 seconds, then add minced garlic and sliced onion and cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the rest of the vegetables and salt and cook four to five minutes, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds, until vegetables are barely starting to soften.
    Add oyster sauce, stirring gently so all the vegetables are coated with sauce. Cook about two minutes more, stirring a few times.
Serve hot.


Grilled Sausage and Summer Squash With Herbs, Capers, Kalamata Olives and Lemon

1-1/2 pounds zucchini and/or yellow summer squash
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound turkey, chicken or pork Italian sausage
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped mint
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
1 tablespoon capers
Juice of 1 lemon

    Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. If using a grill pan to cook the squash, pre-heat it on the grill.
    Wash squash, cut off stem and flower ends, then cut squash into same-size pieces. Put squash into a small bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    If using low-fat turkey or chicken sausages, place them in a flat bowl and brush with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Cook sausage and squash for 15 to 20 minutes, until squash is tender-crisp and sausage is lightly browned, firm, and cooked through.
    Wash, dry and chop mint and parsley.Drain Kalamata olives and cut in half. Put chopped herbs, olives and capers into a bowl large enough to hold all the squash and sausages.
    When sausage is done, cut into one-inch slices. Put sausage and cooked squash into the bowl with the chopped herbs, olives, and capers and toss.
    Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper and squeeze lemon juice over, then toss again. Serve hot.


Marinated Summer Squash and Chickpea Salad With Lemon, Herbs and Parmesan

1 can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
1 lemon, zested and juiced, plus enough juice to make a total of 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 pounds summer squash
1 tablespoon coarse ground kosher salt or sea salt
1 cup chopped fresh herbs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Place chickpeas in a colander to drain, then rinse with cold water until no more foam appears.
    Add lemon juice to lemon zest. Whisk  olive oil.
    Pat chickpeas dry with a paper towel, then place in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid that’s large enough to hold the salad. Add 2 tablespoons dressing and let chickpeas marinate.
    Wash squash and cut off stem and blossom end. Cut squash in half if large, then thinly slice.  Layer one-third of the squash in colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse ground salt, then repeat with two more layers of squash and salt. Let colander sit in the sink for 10 to 15 minutes, until water is released.
    Spread squash on a strip of paper towels, put another layer on top and press down until all the water is absorbed. Put dried squash into the bowl with the marinating chickpeas, add 3 tablespoons dressing and let marinate one to two hours at room temperature, turning the bowl over a few times to keep the squash and chickpeas coated with dressing.
    When ready to serve, chop 1 cup fresh herbs. Toss salad with the remainder of the dressing, mix in chopped herbs and season with fresh ground black pepper.
    Arrange salad on individual plates and top each with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.



Low-Carb Zucchini Bake With Feta and Thyme

4 medium-sized yellow or green summer squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup crumbled feta, plus a few tablespoon more, if desired
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

    Wash and dry squash, then cut off stem and blossom end. Cut lengthwise in half, then slice into half-moon slices about 1/4 inch thick.
    Heat olive oil in large non-stick frying pan, add garlic and thyme leaves and cook about 45 seconds over medium-high heat. Don’t let the garlic brown. Add squash slices and cook about four minutes, turning a few times, until squash barely starts to soften.
    Beat eggs in a small bowl or glass measuring cup until yolks and whites are combined. Stir in sour cream, Feta, Parmesan and lemon juice.
    Layer half the squash in a two-quart rectangular casserole dish that’s been coated with cooking spray, then season with a little salt and fresh ground black pepper. Pour half the egg-feta mixture over the top and spread over the squash. Repeat with another layer of squash and seasoning, then cover with the rest of the Feta-egg mixture.
Sprinkle a few tablespoons of crumbled Feta over the top, if desired.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling, slightly set, and the top is lightly browned.
Serve hot.
    Dish will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two, although it’s best freshly made. For best results, reheat in a toaster oven. Do not freeze.


Grilled Zucchini Caprese Stacks With Basil Vinaigrette

8 large zucchini slices, 3-inches across and 3/4-inch thick
8 round slices fresh mozzarella
8 thick slices tomato about 3/4-inch thick
For vinaigrette:
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing
3 tablespoons basil puree or chopped fresh basil
For zucchini marinade:
1/3 cup vinaigrette dressing
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon Spike seasoning or an all-purpose seasoning blend

    Combine chopped basil with vinaigrette dressing to make basil vinaigrette.  Refrigerate.
    Combine the vinaigrette, dried basil, and Spike seasoning to make marinade.
    Put zucchini slices in a single layer in a zipper-lock bag and pour the marinade over it. Let marinate on the counter for four to 24  hours.
    Spray clean grill grates with oil or non-stick grill spray. Preheat grill to high.
    Lay the zucchini on the grill and turn grill to medium high. Cook about five minutes on the first side, then rotate each piece and cook five minutes more to create crisscross grill marks.
    Turn zucchini over and cook three to five minutes on the second side.
    To create stacks, place a slice of grilled zucchini on a plate, add a slice of fresh mozzarella, then add a slice of tomato.  Drizzle with basil vinaigrette and serve immediately with additional vinaigrette.



Roasted Summer Squash With Pesto and Parmesan

4 medium or 6 small yellow summer squash or zucchini, washed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian herb blend
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup basil pesto with lemon or basil pesto, room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

    Arrange squash in single layer on a roasting pan that’s been brushed with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Brush the top of the squash with the 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with Italian herb blend, salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
    Roast squash in a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes, until the squash is barely starting to soften when you pierce it with a fork. Remove from oven and turn the oven to broil, with a rack three to four inches below the heat element.
    Brush the top of the hot squash pieces with pesto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil three to four minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown.         Serve hot.




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