Diva Repost…Summer Vegetables…

Making The Most of Summer Vegetables

I love my summer vegetables. For those of you who also indulge here are some tips and suggestions we hope will help. Namaste, The Queen Cronista…

Yellow squash and zucchini are a staple of summer farmers markets. And, they are as versatile as they are bountiful. While those two varieties of squash are common at grocery stores year-round, the freshest harvests can be found at local farmers markets.

The skin of summer squash is edible, so they can be quickly cleaned, sliced and cooked via just about any kitchen or outdoor technique. Just how versatile is summer squash? The recipes are practically endless. Squash are a natural side dish for any meat, but they can be served in just about any meal category, from condiments, such as the chutney recipe below, to desserts.

Five ways to cook yellow squash and zucchini

Whether you are a kitchen newbie or seasoned cook, find inspiration for serving yellow squash and zucchini in the following tips, tricks and recipes.

1. Squeeze out the moisture in zucchini. Grated zucchini is a component in a lot of dishes, from omelets to cakes. But, zucchini has more water than you may realize. That extra moisture can make your dishes runny or soggy.

There’s an easy fix. Place the grated zucchini in a sturdy paper towel or dish towel. Enclose the zucchini in the towel and gently wring to work out the moisture.

2. Hash it out. When starting a hash with the sautéing of diced onions and bell peppers, toss in diced zucchini or yellow squash too. The added vegetable adds another dimension of flavor and texture for the leftover beef, ground pork or diced ham in the hash.

3. Slice about 4-5 medium squash, zucchini – or both – and place on a baking sheet pan. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, stir and roast another 8-10 minutes, until fork tender and charred slightly.

For added flavor, add slices of onion and red bell pepper to the sheet. Served with crumbled queso fresco, a salty, fresh cheese common in Mexico.

Or, roast them on the grill. Use a grill pan or heavy duty foil several inches from the flames or offset from the heat. Cook until fork tender.

Baby squash (about 2 inches in length) can be found sometimes at farmers markets. Those can be tossed with oil, salted and roasted whole.

4. Make a classic squash casserole.-throw squash, Cheddar cheese or cream cheese, seasonings and a few other ingredients together in a baking dish. Cut four or five squash and place in a pot. Add some diced onion and green bell pepper and a little water and cook until tender. Drain the vegetables. Add 1 beaten egg and season with salt and pepper. Crush about a sleeve of Ritz® crackers. Mix a little more than half of the crackers into the squash mixture, along with some Cheddar cheese. Pour mixture into a baking dish and top with a little more grated cheese and the rest of the cracker crumbs. Bake at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until heated through.

5. Substitute squash for other ingredients. Replace the potatoes in stew with cubes of squash. In pozole, use yellow squash instead of hominy. In a beef stir fry, replace the broccoli with zucchini.

A summer squash chutney recipe -A chutney is a condiment used in India, often featuring a blend of fruits, vegetables, vinegar and spices for a vibrant, tangy counterbalance to heavy or gamey meats. The recipe below is more subdued, working well with chicken and fish.

NOTE: You may also always slice a package of sauteed cremini mushrooms in place of chicken or other animal proteins. 1 small package per 2 people.

Summer Squash Chutney

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Green Onions, Chopped

2 Small Yellow Squash (About 1 Pound), Diced

2 Small Zucchini (About 1 Pound), Diced

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Dried Ginger

Kosher Salt To Taste

1/2 Cup Fresh Orange Juice

2 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Fruit-Flavored White Balsamic Vinegar

2 Teaspoons Local Honey

1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

Directions

1. In a heavy, medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often until the onion is soft and translucent.

2. Add the squash, zucchini, ginger and salt. Stir and cook 1 minute to evenly coat with the oil.

3. Add the orange and lemon juices and vinegar. Raise the heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Check periodically to stir and monitor the liquid. If the liquid is evaporating, cover the mixture completely, and/or add more orange juice. 

4. Remove from heat and stir in the honey and orange zest. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Cover and chill for several hours before serving. Yields about 3 cups.  

Zucchini Patties

Ingredients

1 7- to 8-inch zucchini (enough for 1 cup when grated and squeezed)

4 ounces of mozzarella, grated

4 eggs, beaten

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Grate the zucchini. Squeeze out the excess moisture and measure to have 1 cup. 

2. In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, mozzarella, eggs, salt and pepper. 

3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat until a test strand of zucchini sizzles as soon as it is dropped in the oil. Cook the patties in batches, about 2 tablespoons of batter to a patty, until brown on each side. More oil may be added to the skillet between batches. Serve immediately, such as with a favorite hot sauce. Yields about 8-10 patties. 

Zucchini and Sausage Hash

Ingredients

1 Pound Breakfast Sausage (Regular Or Spicy)

1 Onion, Diced

1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced

2-3 Medium Zucchini, Diced

Salt To Taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper To Taste

Garlic Salt

Cayenne

Optional: 4 Eggs

Directions

1. In a large skillet or enamel-coated Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the breakfast sausage. Use a spoon or spatula to break the sausage into crumbles as it cooks.

2. Just when the sausage is browned, add the onion, bell pepper and zucchini. Stir occasionally and cook until the vegetables become soft, about 10-15 minutes, and the meat is cooked through. If necessary, reduce the heat to medium to prevent scorching. 

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