By Beverly Barbour
The squash vines are awash in color
It is both a feast for the eye and future feast for the table to walk through a garden or a farmers' market these days and see the glorious colors that both squash and heirloom tomatoes are wearing. They make you want to sit right down introduce them to salt and pepper.
Most of may not think of summer squash as being a salad ingredient but actually it is good both cooked and raw. Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are the most familiar varieties but there are also the various varieties of yellow squash and pattypan squash comes in many colors including white.
Their differences are very few, their similarities, aside from color, are many. You can virtually use any summer squash in any recipe calling for one or the other of the varieties. They are all mild-flavored and delicious raw as well as cooked. Just don't confuse them with the much harder winter squash such as acorn or spaghetti squash.
Uncooked Summer Squash Ribbons
This is a very quick and colorful cold salad but you can also toss the dressed ribbons with cooked wide flat noodles for a delicious warm main course. Use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand, basil and oregano, or herbs d'Provence are good. Makes 8 servings.
3 small zucchini (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Wash squash and shave into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Stop at the seeds. Place ribbons in large bowl and discard seed cores.
Dressing: Combine oil, lemon rind, juice, salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Drizzle oil mixture over vegetable ribbons; sprinkle with basil and oregano. Toss gently. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.
Sauteed Baby Squash with Basil and Sharp Cheese
Keep the cooking time short to preserve the texture of fresh vegetables and their flavors soaring. This simple dish makes a great side dish. If baby pattypan squash are not available, substitute 4 cups of thinly sliced zucchini or yellow squash. Makes 6 servings.
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, swirling to coat; heat briefly. Add squash and leek to pan; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and basil before serving.
Squash, Shrimp and Rice Salad
This dish is actually better if you prepare it a day ahead so that the flavors fully develop.
There really isn't an ingredient in it that can't stand the test of an overnight rest in the refrigerator. Makes 4 servings.
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar or white balsamic
Combine rice vinegar or white balsamic, lemon or lime rind, lime or lemon juice, salt, crushed red pepper, and vegetable oil; let stand 10 minutes. Add oil; stir with a whisk. Add the liquid mixture to the rice and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
Summer Squash Pizza Cooked on the Grill
You can choose all one kind of summer squash or a colorful mixture for this unusual pizza topping. Tomato adds an appetizing touch of red. You could always add slices of pepperoni or sauteed sausage or ground beef for a heartier dish. If you don't have a grill broil this in your oven. Pizza makes a nice meal when served with a salad or it can be cut into smaller slices and served as an appetizer. Makes 8 regular size servings.
1 teaspoon olive oil
Fire up the grill. Combine oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, zucchini slices, and yellow squash slices in a large bowl, tossing gently to coat. Place pieces of coated squash on grill rack which has been coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes on each side or until tender. Reduce grill temperature to medium. Lightly coat pizza crust with cooking spray or oil; grill 1 minute on each side or until lightly toasted. Arrange zucchini and squash over crust and then arrange tomato slices over squash. Sprinkle with cheese. Grill for 5 minutes or until well heated. Remove from grill; sprinkle with basil and oregano.
Color is the spice of life.