By Beverly Barbour
Squash the impulse
Don't leave all of the summer squash on your neighbors front step. It is true, turn your back on a tiny zucchini and overnight it turns into a giant summer squash. Thank heaven this most productive of vines produces a vegetable that can pass unnoticed into any number of delightful recipes, keeping them moist and delicious. It is even good in all kinds of dishes where you can see and taste its presence. Proof follows:
BATTER FRIED ZUCCHINI SPEARS
Serve as a hors d'ouvres or as a side dish. Fennel mayonnaise makes a good dip for them.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Whisk together flour, beer and salt; season with pepper. Halve zucchini crosswise. Cut each half into 6 spears and put, skin side down, on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut a lengthwise slit about l/2-inch deep along top side of each spear. Halve basil leaves lengthwise and push a half leaf into slit of each spear. Heat 1-inch oil in heavy saucepan or deep skillet to 375 F. Working batches of 6, coat spears in batter, letting excess drip off; fry until deep golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Makes 24.
FENNEL OR DILL MAYONNAISE
Good with fish and with Zucchini Spears.
1 tablespoon fennel seeds or 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
In a small skillet over medium heat stir fennel seeds until fragrant. Mix fennel seeds or fresh dill and garlic with salt and stir into mayonnaise, adding lemon juice and pepper. You can thin this by adding l/4 cup sour cream. Makes about l/2 cup.
ZUCCHINI CURRANT MUFFINS
Raisins, dried cranberries, or dates can be substituted for the currants and chopped nuts can be added
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper cups. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in large bowl; stir to blend thoroughly. Stir in zucchini, dried fruit and nuts. Beat together the eggs, milk and oil. Mix ONLY until blended, DO NOT BEAT. Spoon lumpy batter into muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Makes 12 muffins.
COLORFUL SAUTEED SHREDDED SQUASH AND CARROTS
Use yellow squash for the extra color if you have it, if not use only zucchini and carrot.You can make this side dish in about 10 minutes.
1 1/4 pounds green zucchini
Using coarse side of a hand-held grater, shred the vegetables into the longest shreds possible. Heat oil and butter in a heavy pan over high heat until foaming stops. Sauté the shallots; stirring frequently for about l minute. Add vegetables, salt and pepper. Sauté, tossing often, until the vegetables are just limp, about l minute. Season to taste. Makes 4 servings.
ZUCCHINI AND PEPPER PASTA SALAD
Great for a picnic or for lunch.
1/2 pound fusilli pasta
Cook pasta, drain and rinse. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the oil; let cool. Heat remaining oil and sauté onions and garlic for 30 seconds. Add peppers and squash; sauté until crisp tender. Toss vegetables with pasta, adding capers, basil and cheese. Whisk mustard with vinegar, sugar and pepper flakes. Toss with pasta, season and taste. You may want to add a little more olive oil or vinegar. Makes 4 to 5 servings.