Cooking with Summer Squash
Farmers’ markets and produce sections are brimming with beautiful summer squash, from zucchini to yellow, patty pan and eight-ball varieties.
If you love the many varieties of summer squash, some of the season’s most prolific vegetables, that’s a good thing: they’re a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to protect your eyesight. The delicate flavor, soft shell and white flesh of summer squash is a perfect addition to any summer meal.
Whether you’re in the mood for a dish that’s hot, cold, sweet, or savory, here are some delicious ways to serve this summer staple.
Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini Pasta Salad
- 1 lb farfalle pasta
- 1 lb yellow summer squash, cut into 1-in chunks
- 1 lb zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-in chunks
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
- About 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender to the bite, 9 to 12 min or according to package directions. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water until completely cool.
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium heat (you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds). Thread squash and zucchini chunks onto 10- to 12-in. metal skewers and place on a baking sheet. Brush vegetables with 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil on all sides and sprinkle with salt to taste. Transfer to grill and cook 10 to 15 min, turning occasionally, or until vegetables are very tender.
Meanwhile, whisk together remaining olive oil, the vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a small bowl.
With a fork, push vegetables off skewers back onto baking sheet and toss them in oil left there. In a large bowl, toss together pasta, vegetables, oregano, pine nuts, and olives. Add dressing and salt and pepper to taste; toss. Serve warm or cold.
Summer Squash Risotto
- 4 cups water (vegetable stock could be used as well)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 1 medium yellow squash, grated
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- Fresh lemon juice
- A handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pour the water into a kettle and bring to a boil.
Set a medium-sized, heavy sauce pan over med-low heat. Add the oil and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until completely translucent and tender.
Turn up the heat to medium, add the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-4 min or until the grains are mostly translucent and only white in the center.
Pour in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine is absorbed.
Add enough water to cover the rice by 1/2 inch (about 2 cups), 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt), and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup water at a time to keep the rice lubricated and stirring as necessary. The less water you have in the pot, the more you have to stir.
After 15 min of cooking the rice with water, start tasting it. When it’s still a bit crunchy, but close to that perfect al dente stage, stir in zucchini and summer squash. Season with salt to taste, and continue cooking stirring constantly and adding water 1/2 cup at a time as necessary so that the rice doesn’t stick. Taste the rice every few minutes and as soon as it’s almost tender, but still toothsome, turn off the heat.
Add a bit more water if risotto looks stiff. Stir in the butter and a little cheese. Reserve the rest of the cheese to sprinkle on top during serving. Give it a good squeeze of lemon, taste and correct seasoning (you might need more lemon juice and/or salt). Cover and let rest 5 min. Serve sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with good olive oil.
Eight-Ball Squash Stuffed with Rice, Basil and Sun-dried Tomatoes
- 4 eight-ball zucchini
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
- 1 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds
- 1 cup basil leaves, chopped
- 5 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Cut zucchini tops off about 3/4 inch from the top. Scoop out the insides, being careful to leave a wall about 1/4 inch thick on all sides. Steam zucchini and tops for about 8 min, until slightly softened.
Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes by soaking them in hot water until softened. Remove from water and chop. Reserve soaking water.
Chop the zucchini pulp. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the garlic for about 1 min. Add the zucchini pulp and cook for 2 more min. Add the tomatoes, brown rice and almonds, and if the mixture seems dry, add a splash of the tomato liquid. Add the basil leaves, Kalamata olives, and black pepper to taste. Cook until warm, about 3 min.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Using a spoon, carefully stuff the rice mixture into the zucchini, mounding slightly on top. Place in an uncovered baking dish and bake for 20 min. Serve hot, covered with tops if desired.
Pattypan Squash Stuffed With Corn
- 2 lbs pattypan squash
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- Kernels from 2 ears corn
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup milk
- Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
Cut the pattypan squash in half along the equator. Using grapefruit spoon, scoop out the seeds in the middle and discard. Scoop out the flesh to within 1/2 inch of the outside and finely dice. Lightly salt the pattypan shells, and let sit while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a baking dish or casserole large enough to accommodate the pattypan shells.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes. Add the diced squash and cook, stirring, for four to five minutes until tender. Add the corn, and cook, stirring often, for four minutes until just tender. Remove from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan and the cilantro or parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Fill the pattypan shells with the corn mixture, and arrange in the baking dish. Beat together the egg and milk, season with a little salt, and carefully spoon a little over the corn mixture in each filled squash. Add a small amount of water to the dish (about 1/4 inch). Cover tightly, and place in the oven. Bake 45 to 50 minutes to an hour until the squash is tender. Remove from the heat, and transfer to a platter. Serve hot or warm, garnished with additional chopped cilantro or parsley.