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Summer Squash Varieties – Garden to Table Cooking

What do flying saucers, billiard balls, cornucopias, baseball bats and club like mandolins have in common with summer squash? They all describe the surprising range of shapes for this unassuming vegetable. This colorful fruit also has varying hues of yellow and green, with flavors ranging from mild and buttery to full and nutty.

In my book, this makes summer squash one of the most colorful characters in the garden and culinary chameleons in the kitchen. That’s why they always have a place in my garden. This year I picked up a few summer squash varieties at my local K-Mart, including ‘Crookneck’, ‘Golden Straightneck’, ‘Pattypan’, and ‘Black Beauty’ zucchini.

The best fruit comes from plants grown in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil amended with compost or aged manure. (I grow mine in raised beds to improve drainage.) Oyster shell or other calcium-rich amendment prevents blossom-end rot for top-quality fruit. Once blossoms appear, give plants another nutrient boost with compost, aged manure, or a fish/seaweed foliar fertilizer, or water with compost tea every two to three weeks during the growing season. Misshapen or bitter-tasting fruit results from insufficient or irregular watering, so water regularly from a soaker hose or drip irrigation for healthy plants and quality fruit.

I harvest fruits while tender and young: about the size of your palm for patty pan, baseball size for round types, 4 to 6 inches long for crooknecks, and 6 to 8 inches long for most zucchini and straightnecks. But even fruits weighing one pound or less can still be stuffed and baked, grated and used in baked goods, or sliced and grilled as long as you can easily pierce the skin with your thumbnail.

The tender fruits I often slice or dice and toss in pasta salads, stir fries and sautés. Another favorite use is to roast in the oven; cut fruit into thick lengthwise slices, baste with olive oil and tomato paste or a balsamic glaze, sprinkle on some fresh herbs, then roast at 425 degrees for 20 to 40 minutes. Top with feta or other cheese the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.

What’s your favorite variety and recipe? - Kris Wetherbee

 

 

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kris wetherbee

 

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  1. I never knew that summer squash came in so many different shapes and colors. Now I want to try several! I really enjoy reading your blogs. Thank you!

  2. Sounds delicious. Squash and basil pair so well together--the perfect summer pasta meal!!

  3. Summer squash is my FAVORITE vegetable. I love all varieties.

    We make a super simple squash pasta for dinner once a week during the summer. Can use any type. Here are the steps:

    Cook about a pound of pasta according to package directions.
    While that is cooking,Slice thin 3 or 4 medium sized squash.
    Saute slowly with a bit of olive oil until almost mushy (about 20 minutes).
    Add a handful of basil and cook for 5 more minutes.
    Mix an egg and a 1/4 cup of pasta water in with the squash/basil combination.
    Add all to the cooked pasta and that's it!

    It is super fresh and creamy tasting.

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