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Posts Tagged ‘squash’

20130713_Squash_Stew_DSC_0986

Sometimes when I am shopping in the farmers market everything looks so inviting that I can’t decide what to buy.  All of the little summer squashes looked at the peak of perfection which made it impossible to select just one type.  So I decided to buy one of each and put them all together in the pot.  When I got home I sautéed some sweet onion (from a new crop) and garlic in extra virgin olive oil.  When the onion was sweet and soft, I added the sliced summer squash – green, yellow, and a little of both – along with some cherry tomatoes.  I let them simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes or until soft and juicy, but not mushy.  I had a perfect side dish, a toss-in for pasta, and a take along cold lunch all in one.

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If you’ve read my ramblings for awhile you have come across my chats about winter squashes (for instance, February 19, 2009) and know that I do like cooking with them.  Their inherent sweetness appeals to my deep-seated sweet tooth and makes me feel as though I’ve been indulgent when, in fact, I’ve just eaten something very good for me.  This fall I have been cutting winter squash into slices or pieces (depending upon the size) and roasting it just to the point where the edges turned dark brown and begin to crisp.  This seems to highlight the caramelly, slightly bittersweet flavor that I love.  All you have to do is scrub the skin, cut the squash up, toss it with olive oil, a little sweetener (I use saba {a syrupy drizzle made from grape must}, but you could use maple syrup, brown sugar, probably even a sugar replacement if you’re on a diet) – just a little, don’t overpower the squash, and salt and pepper.  Pour the whole thing into a baking sheet and roast at 350ºF for about 30 minutes or so – again, depending on the size of your pieces.  If you do this with smaller squashes – like acorn – cut the squash in half, lengthwise, seed, leave the skin on, and then cut, crosswise, into slices.  The crisped slices look so inviting on the plate.

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I guess that the over-abundance of zucchini and other summer squashes is what led to the frequent finding of fresh squash blossoms in the farmers market – and sometimes even in specialty food stores.  But, not only do they need to be very fresh off the vine, they are so beautiful and delicate that it makes it particularly difficult to cook with them.  A few weeks ago, I ordered them in a very popular (and highly rated) restaurant only to be served a group of large, flat, over-breaded somethings – there was not a sign that a blossom had ever existed under the thick coating of crunch.
The squash blossoms I bought at the farmers market on Sunday were a bit wilted so I had to move quick.  I had a little bit of ham in the fridge along with some mozzarella, so I made a tiny bit of stuffing, filled the blossoms as best as I could (they all tore so easily) with the ham and cheese mix, no breading this time.  Just fried them in some extra virgin olive oil and served them sprinkled with bread crumbs and toasted pine nuts.  Didn’t look wonderfully appetizing, but they made a delicious lunch treat.

 

 

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I love the look of pattypan squash and I can never resist buying a few when I see them at the farmers market.  I particularly love the what-I-guess are hybrids with shades of yellow and green undulating around their scalloped edges.  Years ago, when we had the first take-out store featuring only American products, I would trek over to Pennsylvania Amish country to purchase absolutely beautiful baby pattypan which I would then pickle.  The tiny flower-like squash looked so delicate in the sweet-sour pickling liquid that I sold them as quickly as I could put them up.

I bought just a couple the other day as we have been so glued to the work computer that no canning was on the horizon – just a light summer supper.  I made a quick sauté which we had with grilled chicken.  I think you will enjoy it, too.

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 pattypan squash, trimmed and thinly sliced

¼ cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon tomato paste

4 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

½ teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  When very hot, add the squash without crowding the pan – this may have to be done in batches.  Reduce the heat and fry, turning occasionally, until brown around the edges but still a bit firm.

When all of the squash has been browned, add the chicken stock and tomato paste to the pan.  Raise the heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the butter and herbs, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Add the orange zest and serve.

If you have any on hand, pitted black olives make a great last minute addition.  Take a handful and blanch them in boiling water for a minute, drain well, and pat dry.  Cut into slivers and add to the squash along with the orange zest.  Just remember to go easy on the salt if you’re following this route.

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