Summer Squashes are abundant in July!
Our CSA share has provided an abundance of squashes for the last two weeks: zucchini, summer squash, crookneck, patty pan, and a beautiful, large green one with striped skin, pumpkin-like seeds, and pale flesh. (I’ll remind Clay to ask Max what that variety is called at today’s collection!)
We enjoy squash, but it’s easy for any single ingredient to feel overwhelming in our diet if we don’t make the effort to transform it in different ways. This weekend, we focused on transforming squash, and these are the options we’ve come up with:
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Gnocchi
Our supermarket puts out a complimentary magazine for loyalty card holders every month. Like all magazines, it’s generally an advertisement-vehicle for specific brands, but I thumb through it for different ideas anyway. This month’s pages were full of salads and tips on grilling vegetables, so we decided to grill up a bunch and toss them with gnocchi and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing for a lighter take on pasta salad.
- On Wednesday, when we had the grill fired up, we quartered the unknown squash lengthwise and sliced the patty pans into discs. We grilled them with large slices of vidalia onion, a quartered green bell pepper, and some mushrooms.
- We cooked the gnocchi (a cheater package from the frozen section of the market) according to package directions, and drained it very well.
- Clay made a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, and our instant pot yogurt, seasoned with an herb blend from Penzeys containing green onion, basil, celery flakes, minced garlic, dill salt, chives, and pepper.
- When the veg were cooled we chopped them and two gorgeous heirloom tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, added the room-temperature gnocchi, and tossed the whole mess with the dressing. (Clay dove into the bowl and mixed with his hands, so as not to pulverize the vegetables.)
- The salad went into the fridge overnight so that the flavors could meld and get happy, and then became fabulous take-along-and-eat-at-room-temperature lunches.
Crookneck Squash Frittata
Broiled squash slices, ready for their egg-and-cheese bath.
We’ve never been led astray by a recipe from Uncle Alton, and this one is particularly good. I chopped both rosemary and thyme from our herb garden to mix with the squash slices prior to broiling, and substituted a lovely mild chevre from Lost Ruby Farm for the ricotta cheese – and it was wonderful. I almost can’t wait for fall to try a variation of this with roasted pumpkin and butternut squash.
The finished frittata. I should have pulled it out from under the broiler 30 seconds earlier, but it’s so tasty!
I’ve been making the Zucchini Bread recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook since I was 11 years old, and despite trying dozens of alternates championed by Food Network and Food52 members, I’ve yet to find anything as tasty or reliable as this one.
It’s particularly forgiving if the two leftover zucchini in your fridge that really need to be used up measure out to a cup-and-a-quarter or cup-and-a-half of grated flesh rather than a precise one-cup measure; in that case I sub in a tablespoon or two of whole wheat flour for an equivalent measure of all-purpose, and allow the batter to rest and thicken for ten minutes before putting the pan in the oven. The texture is perfect every time.
How can you go wrong with freshly grated parmesan?
Samantha stated that her Baked Parmesan Squash Rounds isn’t really a recipe, more a two-ingredient short-cut to snacking. I didn’t believe her when I first read that, but she’s right. And as long as we have squash coming in our CSA shares, I have no interest in buying snacking chips at the market. (That’s saying a lot for me – chips are my favorite snack!)
I sliced our last crookneck squash into quarter-inch-thick slices, patted them dry, laid them on a baking sheet sized for our toaster oven, sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper, and then grated a chunk of fresh parmesan over the whole thing. Baked at 425 for 15 minutes, they cooked up into divine, chewy little parmesan crackers. Next time I’ll put them in without the cheese for 7 minutes, then add the grated cheese and continue with the 15-minute plan – so they can get crispier without burning the cheese.
What’s your favorite recipe for summer squashes? I’d love to give it a try – and to hear what you think of these!