Summer squash is fun to use as canapés. Thinly cut rounds may substitute for a cracker, for instance, with goat cheese on top. But cooking intensifies the vegetable’s mild flavor. Here, they’re sliced thickly, baked, and hollowed out to make savory edible cups. Any soft-textured herbs you like can be substituted for the ones suggested below. Note that the flower heads of lavender are composed of numerous tiny florets, easy to pluck out and set in place with tweezers to lend an assertive flavor and vivid color. (Try sprinkling lavender flowers over the top of a tossed salad.) A chive floret, Johnny-jump-up blossom or even a calendula petal would also do, if lavender isn’t part of your garden.
2 ounces plain, creamy goat cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
1 small clove of garlic, peeled
2 tsp each fresh thyme, tarragon and flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Five 6-inch-long zucchini, each with a diameter of 1 to 1 1⁄4 inches
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lavender florets, for a garnish
Bring both cheeses to room temperature to soften, then mix them in a small bowl. Finely grate the garlic clove with the smallest holes on a box grater, or with a Microplane. Add the garlic and herbs to the cheese and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare the squash cups. Cut the zucchini crosswise into three-quarters-inch-long rounds. (Discard any that are less than 1 inch in diameter, or save them for another purpose.) Using a melon baller or a small spoon, scoop out the top of each one to make a saucer-like hollow. Smear olive oil over a baking sheet and place the cups on it so they don’t touch each other, saucer-side up. Bake them for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and blot any liquid that collects in the hollows as they rest with a paper towel. While the squash cups are still warm, make balls of the cheese mixture and set them into the cups. Shape them with your fingers — they don’t need to be perfect! Place lavender florets on top, arrange the cups on a flat plate, and serve within a few hours at room temperature.
Need more delicious ways to cook squash? See How to Grow and Cook Summer Squash for a list of recipes and tips.
Barbara Damrosch farms with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at their Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.