‘Little squash’ hold own with seasonings

Published 12:20 am Saturday, August 24, 2013

We are eating a lot of zucchini these days. I like it raw as well as cooked and I have given a lot of recipes of raw zucchini salads in the past.

The name zucchini is Italian and means “little squash.” But zucchini are notorious shape shifters. Some can be very small and some monstrous. My husband brings me some of the “monstrous” ones quite often, and I wonder how in the world he missed it! I have heard from other people that they seem to grow huge overnight. The zucchini is a native of Central America and arrived in the South through northward migration and with immigrating colonists from Europe.

The vegetable itself didn’t gain widespread popularity until there were cooks and eaters who appreciated that zucchini, unlike more demure and delicate summer squashes, can hold their own with stronger, bolder seasonings such as garlic and chili peppers. The seeds and skins are fully edible, although those prospects lose their appeal as they grow in size. Not all zucchini are long, slender, and dark green. Zucchini can also be round or bulbous and can come in light green, gold, and yellow and have stripes and spots. Small zucchini can resemble other summer squashes to the point that any difference might be only in the eye of the beholder.

I found some really good zucchini recipes in the August, 2011 issue of ‘bon appétit.’


Squash and Tomato Gratin

4 servings

Toss one cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan and 2 Tbsp. olive oil; season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat two Tbsp. olive oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 sliced large tomato; cook, tossing occasionally, until juices are bubbling, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Top with 2 thinly sliced large summer squash and breadcrumb mixture. Bake at 350° until squash is tender and breadcrumbs are golden brown, 20-25 minutes.


Shaved Squash Salad with Sunflower Seeds

4 servings

Shave 2 large summer squash lengthwise with a vegetable peeler and toss with 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice and 2 Tbsp. olive oil; season with salt kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Top with ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese, ¼ cup town fresh basil, and 1 Tbsp. salted, roasted sunflower seeds.


Curried Squash Soup

4 servings

Heat 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 chopped large summer squash, 1 chopped small onion, and 1 tsp. curry powder; season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cook until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until very tender, 25-30 minutes. Puree until smooth.

Serve soup warm or chilled, topped with sour cream, cracked pepper, and cilantro sprigs.