Summertime is squash season — and that's great news for those who enjoy the colorful variety of veggies charred to perfection on the grill, topped on burgers or mixed into stir-fries.
The unusual shape and bright color of yellow crookneck squash make it a standout among summer vegetables. This funky-shaped squash has a similar nutrient profile to its straight-neck yellow squash and green zucchini counterparts. The only real difference is that crookneck squash has a fun little handle to hold.
How to Prepare Crookneck Squash
As a stand-alone dish, yellow crookneck is mild-flavored and can be served either hot or cold. It adds bulk, color and moisture to mixed vegetable dishes and baked goods.
Don't let the goose-like shape of this squash intimidate you: You can prepare crookneck squash in the same way you would any other squash. You might just need to employ a bit more dexterity when using a knife to cut around the "neck" of the veggie.
"My favorite way to use yellow squash is in purees with other vegetables or simply grilled with the skin on to make sure you get all that good fiber," registered dietitian nutritionist Alex D'Elia, RDN, founder of Olox Nutrition tells LIVESTRONG.com.
The first step to preparing your crookneck squash should be rinsing it off. Rub gently with your hands to remove any soil or residue, then dry the squash with a clean kitchen towel.
The next step depends on how you choose to prepare the squash. Some options include:
- Raw squash: Yes, you can eat yellow crookneck squash raw. Consider shredding the squash for an interesting twist on coleslaw or mix it into your favorite salad recipes. In most cases, you'll want to squeeze out the excess water of the squash to maximize its taste and texture.
- Baked squash: You might slice the squash length-wise and bake it in the oven. You can lightly brush it with olive oil and spices for some added flavor. You could also slice up the squash into rounds and bake until golden brown for a crispy "chip" option.
- Sautéed squash: Add cut pieces of squash to a sauté pan or cast iron heated with some kind of fat, which might include olive oil, butter or avocado oil. Stir the squash in the pan until cooked through.
- Stir-fried squash: Give your stir-fries some summer flair by adding yellow crookneck squash. The flavor of these squash is mild enough to take on the taste of whatever you're cooking with, whether that's a soy sauce mixture, a Thai-inspired peanut sauce or something garlicky.
- Grilled squash: Grilled squash is the epitome of summer. Skewer squash pieces on a kebob, plop half a squash directly onto the grill or cut the vegetable into rounds. Clemson University advises cooking for about 3 minutes on the hottest part of the grill. Then, to finish cooking, flip the squash and move them to a spot away from the direct heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender.
Some of our favorite crookneck squash recipes include the following. Feel free to sub in crookneck squash.
Squash can also be a fantastic addition to baked goods and desserts, as it adds moisture and creates an enjoyable, tender texture. Think sweet lemony yellow squash bread, squash pudding and muffins.
The skin of the yellow crookneck may be bumpy or smooth, depending on the variety. Use yellow crookneck within two to three days, as recommended by the University of Illinois Extension. Squash is best stored in the crisper in a plastic bag, per Clemson University.
How to Freeze Squash
When summer squash grows, it can seem like it never stops growing. If you have your own garden and are at a loss for what to do with yellow squash, know that there are plenty of options to ensure none of the goodness goes to waste.
Squash lends itself to easy freezing, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor year-round. Follow these steps to freeze yellow crookneck squash:
- Cut the vegetable into 1/2-inch slices.
- Next, you'll blanch the squash in water for 3 minutes.
- Cool the squash, drain it of residual liquids and package it with 1/2 inch of room at the top.
- Seal the container and place it in your freezer.
Blanching is a critical step because it stops the enzyme action of the squash, which otherwise can cause a loss of flavor, color and texture, per the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Blanching will also help to remove dirt and germs from the squash's surface, brightens its color and slows down the loss of vitamins. The process will also soften the vegetable, which will make it easier to pack and store away. cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.
Health Benefits of Squash
Squash of all shapes and colors make a healthy addition to any meal, as they add a lot of bulk without many calories. A 1-cup serving of sliced yellow crookneck squash contains the following, per the USDA:
- 24 calories
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 4.9 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.3 grams of fiber
- 1.3 grams of protein
Crookneck squash is also ripe with important vitamins and minerals: The same 1-cup serving boasts folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus and potassium.
"Yellow squash is packed with vitamins A and C and is a good source of B6," D'Elia says. "I happen to love B6 because it can help lift mood, is beneficial for brain health and may decrease the severity of PMS symptoms."
Yellow squash is also a good source of manganese, with about 17 percent of the daily value per cup. Manganese is an essential mineral that, among other functions, benefits the immune system.