Squash is perfect on the grill, topped on burgers and mixed into stir-fries.
The unusual shape and bright color of yellow squash make it a standout among summer vegetables. The funky-shaped crookneck squash has a similar nutrient profile and health benefits to regular yellow squash and zucchini. Typically they can be used interchangeably in recipes. The only real difference is crookneck squash has a fun little handle to hold.
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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 Cook 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 or it's sometimes bumpy exterior 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 purées 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. Gently remove any soil or residue, then dry the squash with a clean kitchen towel.
How do you know when crookneck squash is ripe? Harvest them when they're 2 inches or less in diameter and 6 to 8 inches long, according to the University of Massachusetts.
The next step depends on which cooking method you choose. Some options include:
- Baked squash: Slice the squash length-wise and bake it in the oven. Lightly brush it with olive oil and add seasonings for 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 skillet heated with some kind of fat, like olive 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 is mild enough to take on the taste of whatever you're cooking with, whether that's a soy sauce mixture, a 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, then cook for about 3 minutes on the hottest part of the grill. Flip the squash and move to a spot away from the direct heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender, per Clemson University.
No matter your preparation method, you don't have to remove the seeds of yellow crookneck squash, according to the University of Tennessee.
Squash can be a great addition to sides and dinner dishes, but it can also be a fantastic addition to baked goods and desserts because it adds moisture and creates an enjoyable, tender texture. Think: sweet lemony yellow squash bread (similar to zucchini bread), squash pudding and muffins.
You can even 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 for optimal taste and texture.
How to Freeze Crookneck Squash
When summer squash grows, it can seem like it never stops. If you have your own garden and are at a loss for what to do with yellow squash, there are plenty of options to preserve crookneck squash so it doesn't go to waste.
Before freezing, 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 cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retain vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack and store away.
There are two primary methods for blanching — boiling and steaming. Follow these steps to blanch and freeze yellow crookneck squash.
Things You'll Need
Airtight pot lid (optional)
Steam basket (optional)
Airtight containers or zip-top bags
How to Blanch Squash by Boiling
- Cut 1/4 inch off each end of the crookneck squash. Scrub the skin with a vegetable brush under warm running water. You don't need to peel crookneck squash before cooking or freezing, as the majority of the nutrients in the squash are in the skin.
- Cut the squash into 1-inch pieces.
- Place a medium-sized pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.
- Fill a bowl with cold water and ice and set it on the counter. The ice water is used to immediately halt the cooking process after the squash is submerged in the boiling water.
- Place the pieces of yellow crookneck squash in the boiling water and allow them to cook for 3 minutes.
- Remove the squash from the boiling water, using a slotted spoon to avoid burning yourself. Immediately place the squash in the ice water. (Delaying this process can cause the squash to be overcooked, which may result in mushy vegetables when you thaw them.) Leave the squash in the ice water for at least 2 minutes.
- Dry the squash by setting the pieces on a paper or cloth towel on the counter for about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the yellow squash to airtight containers or zip-top bags. Store in the freezer.
How to Blanch Squash by Steaming
For this method, you'll use the same materials as listed above.
- Fill a bowl with cold water and ice and set it on the counter. The ice water is used to immediately halt the cooking process after the squash is steamed over the boiling water.
- Use a pot with an airtight lid and a steam basket that will keep the squash at least 3 inches above the boiling water.
- Put water in the pot, leaving 3 inches of room between the top of the water and the bottom of the steam basket.
- Bring the water to a boil, and then carefully place the squash in a single layer in the steam basket.
- Cover and allow to steam for 3 minutes.
- Remove the basket of squash from the boiling water and immediately plunge it into the bowl of cold water. Allow it to cool in the water for 3 minutes.
- Drain the squash of residual liquids and package it in a freezer-safe container with 1/2 inch of room at the top.
- Seal the container and place it in your freezer.
Health Benefits of Squash
Squash of all shapes and colors make a nutritious addition to any meal — they add a lot of bulk without many calories. According to the USDA, a 1-cup serving of cooked, sliced yellow crookneck squash contains:
- Calories: 34
- Total fat: 0.7 g
- Total carbs: 6.8 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Sugar: 4.5 g
- Protein: 1.9 g
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.
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, supports the immune system.