Are you sick of the squash yet? You know what I am talking about — the abundant never-ending crop of zucchini and yellow crook-necks have most certainly made it to your kitchen by hook or by crook. If you didn’t plant it this year — I didn’t — one or more of your neighbors or coworkers most definitely brought you a few presents. I know I got quite a few of them from my husband’s office.
If you don’t get them fresh, they penetrate your life in a form of zucchini bread, pot-luck casseroles… Those pesky squashes. Bugs love them. God only knows what bugs don’t eat squash. My first year of gardening, my pride and joy Odessa squash bush got attacked by three separate bug colonies back-to-back — the abominable squash vine borer, stink bug and cucumber beetle. The poor thing looked like it was about to die for a while, but somehow it survived, grew around the damaged portions and turned into a fairy-tale tree which then proceeded producing most remarkable sweet and robust pale green squash specimens until late November. One week we went out of town, entrusting the garden to a friend for picking ripe vegetables while we were out. She overlooked one of the squashes, and when we came home, we beheld a regular slugger, not hanging, standing straight up on the ground. It was ginormous, mean looking. I wasn’t quite sure if it was edible at that size, but it turned out just fine once I peeled its coarse skin.
Everyone seems to have a squash story. These beautiful cucurbitae are remarkably vigorous and tenacious. And yes, very very prolific. Since they don’t freeze well, we try to utilize them as best we can, but somehow we always end up making the same good ‘ole stuff — casseroles, soups, gratins. Some try to stuff them, which is a great way to deal with plump squashes, but that doesn’t quite work for skinny zucchinis or yellow crook-necks due to their non-standard figure. A few brave ones attempt pickling — another great way to deal with a large quantity of not-so-pretties.
Here are two alternative ways to deal with tender summer squashes, whether yellow or green. They go well together because one of the recipes utilizes the skins, and the other uses the flesh. One is fresh, the other is cooked. Once is crunchy, the other is tender. I served them side-by-side for dinner, and they worked out well for all involved. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Squash Ribbon Salad
- 2 zucchinis
- 2 yellow squash
- 2 carrots
- 1/4 large red onion
- salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- fresh lemon juice
- fresh herbs
- You will need either a carrot peeler, or a specialty tool called julienne peeler — they work equally well, producing slightly different looking ribbons, but that doesn’t affect the flavor.
- Carefully peel the colorful portion of the squashes off using the above tools. Reserve flesh of the squashes for another dish.
- Peel and cut carrots into ribbons the same way you did squashes. Carrots can be ribboned all the way through.
- Peel and slice the red onion very thinly. The rings or half-rings should resemble your peeled ribbons in appearance.
- Toss vegetables together with a pinch of salt and a bit of lemon juice, squeeze them gently a few times and let sit for 10 minutes to wilt slightly.
- Add olive oil, vinegar, fresh pepper and herbs and mix. Allow a few minutes for the salad to soak up the dressing.
Squash Saute With Tomatoes
- 2 zucchinis (leftover from above)
- 2 yellow squash (leftover from above)
- 1/2 large red onion
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- salt, pepper to taste
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 2-3 large very ripe tomatoes
- fresh herbs
- 2-3 tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Cut peeled squashes into quarters length-wise, and slice about 1/2″ thick cross-wise.
- Dice the onion
- Sliver the garlic cloves.
- Pour 2-3 tbsp olive oil into a skillet and warm up over medium heat.
- Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Stir a few times to prevent scorching.
- Add squash, salt, pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- While squash is cooking, toast pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet for a few minutes, until lightly golden and plump. Set aside until cool.
- Chop tomatoes to the salsa consistency. Add tomatoes to the skillet and cook for another 5-7 minutes, until tomato juices are almost all evaporated and tomato turns richer darker color.
- Add fresh herbs, stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add toasted pumpkin seeds.