Squash is summer’s classic bumper-crop vegetable. Not only is it plentiful, it’s also highly nutritious, versatile, and cheap. At this time of year in supermarkets and farmers’ markets, you'll find a variety of summer squash, including green and yellow zucchini and yellow crookneck, straightneck, and pattypan. Here’s what you need to know about summer squash, including some tasty ways to prepare it.
Summer squash, prepared with the edible skin on, cooks quickly whether you steam, bake, grill, or sauté it. For a simple and healthful dish, cut the squash in half, remove any large seeds, and bake with a little extra-virgin olive oil and the seasonings of your choice. You can also use summer squash in soups, salads, and stews.
Here are three fun ways to prepare summer squash:
can stuff it: Cut a
large zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon or melon baller to scrape out
some of the inside flesh, creating a “boat” (reserve the squash you remove to
chop and use in the stuffing). Then, create a mixture to fill it. Think
reduced-fat cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella, and/or Parmesan mixed with
fresh herbs, like basil or thyme. Or, stuff your zucchini with a combination of
lean ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and/or chopped bell peppers.
bake it in a casserole:
For a quick and easy side dish, slice summer squash of your choice along with
some onions. Toss with a little chopped garlic, cumin, and extra-virgin olive
oil (you can even add some precooked quinoa on Phase 2 for a heartier dish).
Bake until the vegetables are softened, then sprinkle with a little chopped
parsley or fresh coriander. Or combine sliced zucchini and onion with fresh spinach
leaves, extra-virgin olive oil, and grated Parmesan cheese and bake.
serve it as a dessert:
On Phase 2 combine zucchini and apples in a cobbler, add finely shredded
zucchini to oatmeal cookies, or make a healthy zucchini quick bread.
Summer squash offers a slew of nutritional benefits. It’s a good source of magnesium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, copper, and riboflavin. Select squash that are firm and heavy for their size, with bright, glossy skin. Avoid those with nicks, bruises, or soft spots. You can store squash tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to one week.