Enjoy this summertime garden favorite

Summer squash has a delicate flavor that lends itself to a wide variety of colorful seasonal dishes

    Now is the time to enjoy summer squash, whether they are picked fresh from the garden or purchased at a local farmers market.
    Although the term summer squash is commonly used for different varieties of the vegetable, they are largely interchangeable.
    For best flavor, summer squash should be picked early, when they are six to 10 inches long. Pattypan, a saucer-shaped squash, should be no more than four inches in diameter.
    Summer squash may 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.
    Summer squash takes 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, 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 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 summer squash from loveandlemons.com.

 

    loveandlemons.com

Summer Squash Pizza
 
1 pizza dough
1/3 cup marinara sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
1 medium tomato sliced
1/4 red onion sliced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
1 small zucchini, peeled into strips
1 small yellow squash, peeled into strips
Kernels from 1/2 ear of fresh corn
Pinches of red pepper flakes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

    Roll dough out onto a large baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 475-degree oven about five minutes.
    Top the crust with tomato sauce, scallions, half the onions, half the cheese, sliced tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, remaining red onions, corn and remaining cheese. Top with a few pinches of red pepper flakes and another pinch of salt and pepper.
    Bake about five minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
    Makes two to three servings.

Lemony Summer Squash Orecchiette
 
3 small or 2 medium summer squash, sliced 1/8-inch thick
8 ounces orecchiette pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
2 cups chopped spinach,  chard or kale
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
1/3 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons capers
Pinches red pepper flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Sea salt
Fresh black pepper

    Lay squash slices on a towel and pat dry.
    Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente.
    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring until fragrant. Add sliced squash, salt and pepper. Stir, then let the squash cook on each side until lightly browned.
    Stir in lemon juice, then add spinach and toss. Add pasta along with a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water.
    Stir in feta, capers and red pepper flakes. Season to taste, then add Parmesan cheese, more lemon juice and drizzles of olive oil as desired.
    Makes three servings.
    For a vegan option, skip the cheese and serve with dollops of pesto.

 

Summer Squash and Corn Orzo
 
For pasta toss:
3/4 cup uncooked whole grain orzo
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped chives
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup feta, optional
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, optional
Sun-dried tomatoes, optional
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar, optional
For squash sauté:
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups sliced summer squash
1/2 cup corn
Generous splash white wine
Sea salt
Fresh black pepper

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook orzo until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Set aside.
    Make the squash sauté by heating olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in garlic, summer squash and a splash of white wine. Continue cooking until the wine reduces and the squash softens. Stir in the corn. Taste and adjust seasonings.
    Raise heat to medium-high and add the reserved pasta water. Stir in orzo and mix until the vegetables and pasta are well combined. Add basil, pine nuts, chives and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
    Top with the feta, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, and/or balsamic, if desired.
    Makes two servings.

Crispy Zucchini Casserole
 
4 cups mixed zucchini and yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil

    Set sliced squash on a kitchen towel to drain excess moisture.
    In a large bowl, toss zucchini and onions with the pesto.
    Layer a 9-by-12-inch baking dish that’s been brushed with olive oil on the bottom  with marinara sauce, followed by zucchini mixture. Spread mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle the top with panko, Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and pinches of red pepper flakes. Bake in a 375-degree oven about 25 minutes, until zucchini is tender but not mushy and the top is crisp and lightly browned.
    Let cool 20 minutes before slicing.
    Makes three to four servings.

Grilled Veggies

1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed
1 small red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 ear fresh corn, cut into 1-inch rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Tzatziki, pesto or Greek dressing

    Cut the vegetables into similar-sized chunks and thread onto four metal skewers. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
    Grill over medium-high heat for eight minutes per side, until vegetables are tender and lightly charred. Remove from the grill, season to taste and serve with sauce or dressing.
    Makes four servings.

 

Sautéed Yellow Squash

3 yellow squash
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil and thyme, optional
For herb oil:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For bread crumb topping:
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

    Slice squash into 1/4-inch rounds. If the squash is large, slice the rounds into half-moons.
    In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Shake to combine.
    In a small bowl, combine panko, Parmesan, parsley, salt, several grinds of pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired.
    Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a few drizzles olive oil. Add squash and sauté seven to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft but still has a firm bite. Remove from the skillet and toss with herb oil. Top with the panko mixture and fresh herbs, if desired.
    Makes four servings.

 

Vegan Pasta Salad

1 cup haricots verts, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces short curly pasta
2 medium yellow squash, spiralized or very thinly sliced
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced into quarters
3/4 cup cooked navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 heaping cup halved cherry tomatoes
Scant 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
For dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup almond milk or water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water nearby. Blanch haricots verts one minute, then transfer to the ice water. Drain and pat dry.
    Prepare pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking just past al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
    In a small-medium bowl, whisk together milk, tahini, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
    In a large bowl, combine pasta, haricots verts, yellow squash, artichoke hearts, navy beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion and olives. Toss with dressing. Mix in parsley, basil and sunflower seeds, then season to taste with more salt.
    Serve at room temperature or store in the refrigerator as long as two days. Season to taste before serving.

 

Eggplant and Squash Tian
 
1 large eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
4 medium tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 eggs
1 cup cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

    Slice eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, add eggplant slices and cook about five minutes, flipping once, until both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
    Oil a large baking dish or tian. Make a pinwheel pattern of the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and tomato slices, layering in the onions and garlic until all the vegetables are used.
    Whisk together eggs, cream, Parmesan, basil and red pepper, season with salt and pepper. Pour into the baking dish.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until vegetables are tender, the custard is set and the top is nicely browned.
    Makes six to eight servings.

 

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