Now is the time of year that many home gardeners find themselves asking, “What am I going to do with all this squash?” Aside from pawning off orphans of the abundance of one of summer’s most easily grown vegetables, we dug up new ways to prepare summer squash and got the lowdown on the bountiful summer veggies.
Healthful and Fun Facts
Zucchini (the green veggie) and summer squash (zucchini’s yellow friend) contain high levels of vitamins A and C. They are also some of the vegetables that are highest in potassium, higher even than bananas, which helps lower blood pressure. Zucchini and summer squash have just 36 calories (in comparison a baked potato has 130 calories) and are high in fiber, which aids in digestion and curbs overeating.
Scientists have found squash seeds in Mexican caves that have been preserved for 10,000 years. With their availability to adapt and grow fairly quickly, squash cultivation became popular in North America, becoming a staple in the Native Americans diet. Along with corn and beans, they often referred to squash as one of the “three sisters.” Columbus brought a variety of squashes back to Spain and introduced the summer squash to many parts of Europe.
Fairly recently, in the 1920s, the squash variety we know as zucchini came to North America from Italy. The name derives from “zucca,” Italian for squash. It is thought that Italian immigrants brought their native zucchini over and began cultivating it in California.
Fun Fact! The world’s largest zucchini on record was 69 1/2 inches long, and weighed 65 lbs.
Due to the mild flavor of zucchini and summer squash they each lend themselves well to both savory and dessert dishes. Cut a zucchini into rounds and top with a colorful appetizer such herbed goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Raw squash sliced lengthwise and thin, typically on a mandolin, is an ideal light base for a summer salad. As side dish, simply grilled or a squash gratin tend to bring out the squash’s delicate and slightly sweet flavor. Showcase the summer squash’s in a ratatouille as the main dish.
As an extra bonus, zucchini blossoms are edible too! Most commonly, they are stuffed with soft cheese and herbs and baked or fried.
Squash can hide well in desserts too! Aside from zucchini bread, try a zucchini cake or cookies. Chocolate pairs great with summer squash and zucchini. Try a moist chocolate zucchini cake— or, simply add chocolate to your favorite zucchini bread recipe. Citrus is also complimentary to summer squash and is a unique addition to pies, breads and muffins.