Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Five of the Easiest and Best Ways to Cook with Summer Squashes

I normally post a recipe a week, not because I have a significant fan base or anything, but because if I don't make myself write down recipes, I forget them. Keeping in mind that I am not quite the only one reading my recipes, I try not to be too redundant, despite the fact that I tend to use the same ingredients over and over based on what's growing in my garden. 

Like any respectable California home gardener, I am now overwhelmed by a bumper crop of summer squash. 
A day's harvest of patty pan squash, eggplant and Roma tomatoes
A zucchini that got out of hand

I am eating squash of some kind every day, but it does seem a little annoying to post squash recipes for two months straight. So here you go, I will just throw out my five favorite and easy (but not original) ways to use up squash, with links to recipes that I've tried and liked. I emphasize the word easy because there are plenty of layered and stuffed squash recipes that are great, but they are more fussy.

Then I promise I will not post anything about squash for the rest of the summer, unless I get hit with some wild and crazy, super-original inspiration.

1.  Sliced, floured, fried and salted. Sometimes, the simple stuff is the best. Nice high heat on your olive oil ( a little smoke is no big deal) and fried squash slices with good-ol' homemade ranch on the side. It's just yum.

2. Grated up and put in a fritter. I have several of these recipes posted, I sometimes call them patties or pancakes too, but Nigella Lawson has some tasty ones here- Courgette Fritters

3. Grilled and served in a salad. Grilling adds a ridiculous amount of flavor to a vegetable that isn't super intense in flavor to begin with. Get a little char on there, and don't salt until after they're grilled. Check out My Grilled Summer Salad.

4. Mixed in with pasta sauce. This is so obvious, but it's just really tasty. The trick is not to do it too soon though. You don't want mushy zucchini and you don't want to water down the sauce. I would lightly saute the squash separately in olive oil first, then mix it up with your sauce, or pasta, at the last  minute. I like Tyler Florence's recipe for spaghetti and meatballs, you could use a smaller pasta instead of spaghetti and replace half the pasta with the squash.

5. Mix it up half and half with mashed potatoes. This works well and it's even better if you leave the skin on the potatoes and go for the chunky kind of mashed potatoes. You will want to grate or finely chop the squash and, just like with fritters, squeeze a bunch of the moisture out of the squash first. Replace about a third to a half of the potato bulk with squash and follow the mashed potato recipe of your choice.

Happy Gardening and Eating!