I hear through the grapevine that some people have a problem with an overabundance of summer squash. They get so much produce from a couple plants that despite gifting pounds of it to friends, family, neighbors and random people on the streets, they still find themselves eating it daily in an attempt not to waste.
I am not one of those people. Every year, squash is our most disappointing crop in the garden, and if you’ve seen our garden, that’s saying a lot.
The past four years, we’ve planted squash, either from a starter or seeds. And every year, the exact same thing happens. Our plants grow huge really fast, squash blossoms pop up, then tiny little baby squashes, we get super excited, and then the plant shrivels up and dies two days later. Help!
Luckily, our friends and family with much better luck at gardening keep us stocked with squash throughout the summer. A few weeks ago when Scott brought home a giant bag of zucchini and yellow squash, after I had already picked up a big bag on sale at the grocery store, I knew it was time to get cooking.
Summer squash are unsurprisingly related to winter squash, but also cucumbers and melons. Zucchini and yellow squash are the two most people are familiar with, but keep an eye out for other heirloom varieties, including pattypan, lemon, and black beauty. Compared to other summer produce like tomatoes, eggplant and berries, squash are rarely recognized for their nutritional value. That’s unfortunate, because squash is incredibly inexpensive, versatile and nutritious!
Carotenoids // Squash are a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that protect the eyes. Consumption of foods rich in these antioxidants has been associated with a lower risk of age related macular degeneration and catracts.
Vitamin C // A serving of squash is a very good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that improves immune function and protects against heart disease and cancer.
Copper // An essential mineral used to form enzymes that perform critical body functions, including some that are involved in blood sugar control. Inadequate intake of copper has been associated with arthritis, colon cancer, osteoporosis, nerve damage and elevated LDL cholesterol.
Another interesting benefit to squash – with most vegetables, the seeds are not consumed, but squash are an exception. The seeds themselves are a concentrated source of antioxidants compared to the flesh. The seeds also contain small amounts of omega 3 fats.
If you’re stuck with a bounty of summer squash, don’t toss it! Once you’ve donated some to your friends, family and me (!!), mix it up with these three fun squash recipes! And as a bonus, here’s a few squash recipes from the archives:
Pinto Bean Mole Chili
Grilled Vegetable Chili
Quinoa Chili (apparently squash is a non-negotiable chili ingredient)
Eggplant and Zucchini Burger
Grilled Zucchini and Gruyere Panini with Smoky Pesto
Grilled Zucchini, Green Onion and Ricotta Pita Pizza
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced and rinsed
- 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, in ½-inch dice
- 1 lb yellow squash and/or zucchini, in ½ inch dice
- 8 eggs
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or organic 2%/whole milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- ½ cup chopped basil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil on medium heat. Add leeks and saute until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from skillet to a plate and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet and increase heat to medium-high. When hot, add potatoes and saute, stirring frequently, until partially tender and golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add squash and saute until potatoes and squash are golden and tender.
- While vegetables are cooking, turn on the broiler. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, almond milk and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and pour over the cooked vegetables. Cook until the edges are set. Sprinkle cheddar over the top and broil until set and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- While frittata is cooking, make chimichurri. Mix basil, zest and garlic. Stir in olive oil. Season with salt.
- Cut frittata into slices and serve warm or room temperature garnished with chimichurri.
- 2 large fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise and cut into ½ inch slices
- 2 large summer squash, in 1 inch cubes
- 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Basil, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Place fennel and squash into two separate medium bowls. Divide the sweet onion between the two bowls. Toss each with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide each bowl among two rimmed baking sheets. Roast the squash for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway and roast the squash for 30 minutes, stirring halfway, until both are lightly browned and tender.
- Toss together after cooking, place in a serving bowl and garnish with basil.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large zucchini, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
- ¼ cup sliced green onion
- 2 teaspoons chili powder or dry BBQ rub
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When hot, add zucchini and red onion. Saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn, green onions and chili powder and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned.