Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Luckily this prolific producer is very versatile. If you can steer clear of the Squash Vine Borer and keep the squash bugs at bay you shouldn't have any problem growing a thriving and producing summer squash bush. There are many tasty varieties, though they are all similar in texture and taste. Every summer we grow zucchini, yellow straight-necks and patty-pans. Sometimes we grow different varieties of zucchini, yellow crook-necks, and this year my mom is trying out an Italian zucchini. We have found that the quality of yellow squash can vary, so it pays to buy your seed from a good source. Characteristics that I do not like to see in my yellow squash is a hard bumpy skin (rendering the squash almost gourd like), a dark yellow skin (which can be tough), or narrow necks with pot-bellied bodies (full of seed with little to eat).
When it comes to eating summer squash it is fun to get creative and consider all the options. It is good fried, grilled, baked, steamed and even combined with other foods. Here are a few recipes I like.
Thinly slice (1/8”) summer squash (my favorite is yellow) and dredge the slices in a mix of half cornmeal, half flour, and a little salt and pepper. Pan fry one layer at a time in a large iron skillet with about ¼” of oil. Keep turning until golden brown on both sides (and as crispy as you prefer). Place cooked squash on a paper towel to soak up extra oil and serve hot! Fried squash is an old fashioned side dish. Growing up mom would make fried squash as an accompaniment to any good meal. I think it would be great with a cucumber dressing or even with some fresh salsa.
Fill a skillet with sliced onion or shallots and let them cook and caramelize. Then, add either chunks or slices of any and all kinds of summer squash and cook till soft. Hike up the heat a little at the end so the extra liquid cooks out and everything gets a little brown, sprinkle with some seasoned salt and you've got another savory side! Summer squash is also a good add-in to any vegetable stir-fry.
Baked and Broiled
Cut the squash into wedges and lay on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and sprinkle with seasoned salt, or garlic, salt and shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake till tender then broil till golden. Another fun thing to do is slit a zucchini, scoop out the seed cavity and fill with a rice mix, meatloaf mix or other filling. Bake this zucchini boat till filling is cooked and squash is tender. The possibilities are endless.
Baking with Zucchini
A friend of mine loves making mock apple pie with Zucchini. Zucchini can also be shredded just like carrots and frozen for winter use in zucchini bread (after it thaws be sure to strain the water off). A favorite of mine is chocolate cupcakes made with zucchini. A lady used to bake and sell them at our farmers market, she added chocolate chips and that made them even yummier! Zucchini cakes are easy to make using a Jiffy Cornbread Mix with a cup of shredded zucchini then fried into small pancakes in a hot oiled skillet.
Please share with me your favorite use of summer squash in the comment section below. I'd love to have some ideas on how to use a couple of lemon squash that a friend of the farmers market brought for me to try the other day. Those cute little golden globes have a lot of possibilities; I'm thinking of stuffing them like a bell pepper. Happy Harvesting!