The mild, tender, thin-skinned characteristics of summer squash varieties, yellow crookneck, zucchini and pattypan, render them versatile and offer a variety of uses in a wide spectrum of meal types. The best ones to look for are relatively small -- they can reach a length of two feet -- about six inches and smooth and blemish-free. The summer is the best time to find them fresh and in abundance, but yellow squash and zucchini are usually available year-round. Decisions regarding summer squash preparation usually involve whether or not to peel, de-seed and salt to reduce water content. Otherwise, add a bit of oil, seasoning and choose the cooking method of choice to prepare these gourds rich in vitamins A, C and niacin.
Choose tender, thin-skinned zucchini, yellow squash or pattypan squash. Wash them in warm water and shred them with a cheese grater, rotating the squash until the outer flesh is used, and discarding the seeded core.
Reduce the liquid content in the squash flesh to improve the texture for cooking and concentrate the flavor. Place the shredded squash in a colander and season it with salt. Toss it to ensure the salt covers the exposed surface area of all of the squash. Place the colander in a bowl and allow it to stand at room temperature for half an hour. The water in the flesh will drain into the bowl.
Rinse the squash in the colander and dry it in a salad spinner or paper towels.
Toss the shredded squash with olive oil and pepper. Warm olive oil in a skillet on high heat and add the squash, sauteing for approximately five minutes until browned.
Combine stone-ground mustard, crushed and minced herbs, and olive oil and pour it over the cooked squash for added flavor.
Dice squash, season it with salt and drain it in a colander for half an hour. Rinse and dry it with paper towels.
Saute it with olive oil in a skillet on medium heat for approximately eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Add dill, thyme, oregano or tarragon for added flavor.
Add diced, sauteed squash to pasta sauce, soup, stuffed peppers, casseroles, enchiladas, ratatouille, chili, fajitas or omelets.
Mix together flour and lager until a consistency for frying batter is achieved.
Stem and rinse squash blossoms.
Heat olive oil on high in a skillet.
Stuff the squash blossoms with ricotta cheese, dredge them in the batter and arrange them in the skillet so that the blossoms are not touching one another.
Heat the blossoms for approximately three to five minutes until the crust is golden brown.
- Cook's Illustrated: The Best Way to Cook Zucchini
- The New Food Lover's Companion: Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst