Some experts say that one zucchini plant is enough for a family of four people. I’m not sure I agree with that, but I will say that zucchini and other summer squashes are prolific producers and sometimes it can be tough to use all that your garden gives you. So with that in mind, I offer up a few things that we do with summer squash here at Happy Acres, in no particular order.
1. Saute it. The possibilities and combinations are endless. Use a little olive oil or butter, and add some herbs like basil, oregano, parsley or thyme. Throw in some onions or garlic. Add some cherry tomatoes or red bell peppers for a little color. Cook it until it’s just crisp tender, or cook it until it’s soft and mushy – it’s all good.
2. Grill it. Grilling add a new dimension to many vegetables, including squash. Cut squash in half length ways and grill it until it’s nice and charred. Then chop it up, season it with some balsamic vinegar and herbs. Or slice it in thinner strips (1/8-1/4″ thick), brush it with some garlic and herb infused olive oil while grilling. If you have a grill basket, you can cut it in chunks before grilling. If you’ve never grilled squash, you’re in for a treat.
3. Add it to omelets and frittatas. We saute it lightly before adding it to the eggs. It’s also a great way to use up leftover sauteed or grilled squash. The frittata in the above photo was made with yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil.
4. Put it on pizza. And no, I’m not kidding! With or without tomato sauce, lightly cooked squash is a great low-calorie addition to homemade pizzas. Put enough cheese on it and even picky eaters will eat it! The pizza in the above photo was topped with garlic scape pesto, roasted tomatoes and zucchini. And cheese – grated Parmesan and Romano.
5. Grate it up and make zucchini bread. When you put it in a quick bread with other yummy ingredients, you may gain a wider audience. We make our zucchini bread with white whole wheat flour and it’s actually pretty healthy. Click here for the recipe. You can also grate it, measure out the amount you need for your recipe, and freeze it for later use. Which leads us to my next suggestion.
6. Freeze it. Since squash is mostly water, it will lose its shape and crispness when thawed, but it’s great for adding to soups, casseroles, and for side dishes. I slice it in 1/4″ thick slices, then blanch it in boiling water for 3 minutes. Plunge in ice cold water to quickly cool, then drain and package for the freezer. When grating and freezing, I don’t blanch the squash before freezing. Frozen squash plays a starring role in our winter time vegetable soups, along with green beans, carrots and other veggies from the garden. There’s nothing better on a cold day than a bowl of soup made with goodies you grew yourself.
7. Make squash fritters. Grated squash with the water squeezed out is mixed with flour or bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings, then pan fried in a little oil. Next time I make them I’ll try and remember to get a photo and then post the recipe. They’re easy to make and sort of remind me of potato pancakes – except they’re made with squash.
8. And last but not least, you can always give them away! Stories abound of people dropping off bags of squash on neighbors porches, or slipping them in cars in the church parking lot when nobody’s looking, but I’ve got a better idea. Take them to a local food pantry or soup kitchen where you know they will be put to good use. Someone else will get to enjoy the squash, and you’ll get to feel good about it too. We grow extra squash for that very purpose, and it never goes to waste.
I hope I’ve given you all some new thoughts on how to use squash when it’s in season and plentiful. Now, how about you – what do you do to reduce your own glut of squashes?