For a hearty and healthy meal, accentuate the mild flavor of yellow squash by baking it with your choice of tasty toppings such as low-fat cheese, crispy breadcrumbs and savory seasonings. Available in crookneck or straightneck varieties, with either smooth or lumpy skin, yellow summer squash is low in calories and high in potassium, vitamin C and beta carotene. Look for small, firm, bright yellow squash with a length of 8 inches or less, as large, mature squash tends to be dry and stringy.
Rinse the squash thoroughly, then cut off the stem and blossom ends. Don't peel the squash. Because summer squash consists primarily of water, most of the color, flavor and nutrients are in the skin.
Cut the squash into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Alternatively, slice the squash in half lengthwise, or cut it into bite-sized chunks. If the squash is very small, you can leave it whole.
Coat a baking dish lightly with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil, then place the squash slices or chunks in the dish. If you cut the squash in half lengthwise, arrange the halves with the cut side facing up.
Add more vegetables, if desired, such as chopped onion or green pepper, diced tomato or minced onion to suit your preferences. For added variety, you can combine yellow squash with other types of summer squash such as green or yellow zucchini.
Drizzle the mixture lightly with olive oil, then season the dish to taste with salt and pepper, and fresh or dried herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme or basil.
Top the squash with grated cheese, if desired. You can use cheddar cheese, but if you prefer a lower-fat dish, mozzarella, Monterey Jack or Parmesan are better choices. You can also use a combination of cheeses, or combine shredded cheese with equal parts bread crumbs. For an Italian-style dish, cover the squash with tomato sauce instead of cheese and bread crumbs. Then, during the last 4 or 5 minutes of cooking time, sprinkle a small amount of grated cheese over the top.
Bake the summer squash in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 35 minutes. If you've added breadcrumbs, and want them brown and crispy, turn on the broiler just before you remove the squash from the oven. Watch the dish closely to prevent burning because crisping the top usually only requires 1 or 2 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve hot.
- The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
- Purdue University Extension: Vegetable of the Week -- Summer Squash
- University of the District of Columbia, Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health: Summer Squash
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Using and Storing Summer Squash