Summer squashes are ones that are harvested when immature. The term “summer” and “winter” for squash are only based on current usage, not on actuality. “Summer” types are on the market all winter; and “winter” types are on the markets in the late summer and fall, as well as winter. Thus, the terms “summer” and “winter” are deceptive and confusing, but can really be used all year round. My favorite summer squash is zucchini, which can be incorporated into a ton of recipes. Dark green on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside. There are so many ways you can prepare it, and they’re all delicious in my opinion.

Before preparing any dish the vegetables should be properly prepared: Thoroughly scrub each squash under running water until the skin feels clean. Another crucial step is cutting off and discarding the stem and ends. Some people prefer to peel their squash, but I like the deep greens this adds to the dish so I leave the skin on.The peel is where many of the nutrients are, so I rarely peel my squash.

To bake: Arrange the slices/pieces of squash in a baking dish and drizzle with oil oil, salt and pepper, or butter if you prefer and bake at 350/375 until the pieces are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.

To sauté summer squash: Cook in butter over medium-high heat until barely tender but not yet translucent. For added flavor you can sprinkle with salt and pepper, or dash with garlic and onion powder and add in chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, and tomatoes for a tasty combination.

To use in baking: One of my favorite summertime snack is zucchini muffins or zucchini chocolate chip bread:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1-2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl, beating until smootj. Pour into two greased 9×5 loaf pans and bake at 350 for 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

The delicate flavor, soft shell and creamy white flesh of summer squash is a perfect addition to any summer meal.  Regardless of variety, all parts of summer squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds and skin. If you can’t eat it right away, it should be stored unwashed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about seven days. Head over to your local farmer’s market or grocery story and get some today and give it a try.