Try not to hate squash for its extremism


You never know with summer squash. 

Some years, it just keeps coming and coming, and you try every recipe imaginable and it still keeps coming, until you seriously consider adding zucchini to your breakfast cereal. And then other years, just when you’re getting into the swing of things, poof—it’s all gone. Gone from your garden, gone from your CSA box, gone from farmers markets. Those are the years that squash bug and squash vine borer hit hard. And you realize that you actually miss squash when you don’t have it.

Knock on wood, but this is looking like it might be a year of abundance. 

I’ve discovered that my own little garden serves as a good gauge. That’s because if there’s a disease a plant can get, a blight or a bug that’s anywhere within a 50-mile radius, you can be sure that it will find its way to my little patch of soil. Two years ago, aphids wiped out our entire fall crop. This past fall, we learned about stink bugs. And last spring, that’s when we met the squash vine borer. 

This year, we doubled down. And wouldn’t you know it, miraculously, all of our plants are producing like there’s no tomorrow. It’s the same story at the farmers markets, where it seems that every farmer has a pile of yellow, zephyr, zucchini, and pattypans for sale. 

I’m trying not to take it for granted. Life is fleeting, and so is summer squash. Each evening, as I stare at the pile of squash on my cutting board, I remind myself that last summer, I had wished it had stayed around a little longer.  

Fortunately, summer squash is easy to prepare and almost never requires a real recipe—especially if you avoid any contact with Ritz crackers or canned soup. No one needs those. Instead, try these simple ideas (add salt and pepper to taste):

  • Dice and saute with onions; top with fresh thyme or basil.
  • Slice into rounds, steam until just tender, and sprinkle lightly with grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Eat raw in a salad.
  • Saute a summer medley of onions, green beans, cherry tomatoes and squash (added to the pan in that order).
  • Grate squash and onion; microwave with corn and lima beans for fast squash succotash.
  • Cut in half lengthwise, rub with the cut edge with a clove of garlic, brush with olive oil, and grill. 
  • Grill zuchini and stack on a bun with grilled eggplant, peppers, onion and tomato: grilled ratatouille sandwich.
  • Grate, quick sauté with garlic and tomato, and use as a filling for omelets.

But, just in case you want to mix it up a bit, here’s a recipe for Summer Squash Baked With Eggs and Herbs. It’s perfect for brunch or a weeknight supper.

Got a simple squash recipe to share? Add it to the comments section below.