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Up Your Squash Game With These Vibrant Recipes

An incredibly diverse vegetable, the many varieties of squash is a fantastic ingredient for summer. When made into a salad, squash is refreshing and light, filled with freshness and a satisfying texture. A quick stir fry of summer squash with your choice of protein is a tasty and easy weekday dinner. And squash isn’t just great for quick cooking — this versatile vegetable can be made into a soothing soup or as a topping for pizzas and flatbreads.

Summer squash in a garden.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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Preparing Squash

Since there are so many different varieties of squash, there can be some confusion when it comes to preparation. For summer squash like zucchini or yellow squash, both skin and seeds are edible and don’t need to be removed. To prepare, simply cut the top and end of each squash before slicing into your desired shape and size. Fall squash like acorn or butternut have harder skin and seeds that need to be removed before eating. This can be done with a chef’s knife or sturdy vegetable peeler. Once cut open, fall squash seeds can be scooped out with a spoon.

Cooking Squash

Squash is incredibly diverse. This versatile vegetable can be fried, grilled, or sliced raw for salads. Summer squash can be shaved raw and tossed with a vinaigrette for a vibrant salad. When cooking, be careful not to overcook. Overcooked squash has a spongey texture instead of the slightly crisp crunch of properly cooked squash. Since squash will continue to soften after cooking, it can be helpful to remove the squash from the heat source just before it’s fully cooked, letting the residual heat bring it to the perfect doneness.

Squash also pairs well with dairy. Soft, creamy cheese like ricotta or a sharp cheese like parmesan all blend fantastically with squash. A simple recipe is to sauté your summer squash in olive oil with aromatics like shallots or garlic before tossing with lemon juice and your choice of cheese.

Heirloom Squash with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

Charred Squash recipe from Pyre Provisions in Louisiana
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(By Jeff Mattia, chef-owner of Pyre Provisions)

Pyre Provisions is a wood-fire restaurant in Louisiana, inspired by Chef Jeff Mattia’s experiences in southern kitchens. Pyre’s food and beverages are centered on fire cooking, bringing dishes to life with smoke and wood-grilled techniques. This dish is a favorite at Pyre Provisions, perfectly showcasing their dedication to unique fire-cooking.

For Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette:

Ingredients:

  • 2 slicer tomatoes chargrilled or roasted in oven until soft and dark on the outside
  • 1 red bell pepper (same preparation as tomatoes)
  • 1 pint salad oil
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dried harissa or paste
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp salt

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender and process until smooth. Slowly stream in the oil while blending on a low speed.

For Panko/Parmesan crumble:

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz panko
  • 1 oz grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a wide sauté pan and cook on low while stirring continuously until golden brown

For Plating:

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz of baby heirloom squash or yellow squash and zucchini cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 oz roasted tomato vinaigrette
  • 1 oz toasted panko/parmesan crumble

Method:

  1. Sauté the squash over medium high heat until slightly charred on the sides.
  2. Remove from heat and place in a bowl and toss in the vinaigrette.
  3. Top with panko mixture.

Summer Flatbread with Roasted Eggplant, Summer Squashes, Ricotta

Wood-fired Summer Flatbread with Squash and Ricotta from Veranda
Summer Flatbread from Veranda. Image used with permission by copyright holder

(By Chef George Mendes of Veranda)

Veranda is a new NYC dining destination inspired by its garden-like atmosphere. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Executive Chef George Mendes is famous for his elevated Portuguese cuisine at Aldea, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. He is also an acclaimed cookbook author. In 2014, Mendes published his first cookbook, My Portugal: Recipes & Stories.

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, split lengthwise
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • White pepper from mill to taste
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 32 oz pizza dough (store bought)
  • All purpose flour to dust
  • 1 yellow summer squash, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 green zucchini squash, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • .5 cup ricotta cheese
  • .5 cup basil leaves, torn

Method:

  1. Heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Make criss-cross slices into the eggplant to ease cooking and season with the salt and pepper. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast on sheet pan in oven for about 30 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Remove from oven and let cool to the touch.
  2. Puree until smooth in food processor. Add sherry vinegar and mix. Adjust with salt and pepper if necessary. Reserve.
  3. Place a pizza stone in oven at highest rack height.
  4. To prepare dough: dust work surface with flour. Divide dough into 4 to 8-oz pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough in an oval shape about 1/16 inch thick.
  5. Using a spoon, spread a thin layer of the eggplant puree onto the dough leaving a ½-inch border for the crust. Spread an even mixture of both squashes, then dot with the ricotta (about 8-10 quarter size dots) and add the torn basil leaves. (Repeat with the 3 remaining doughs as you cook each one in next step).
  6. Using a floured pizza peel, transfer into hot oven and cook each piece for 8-10 minutes or until deep golden brown and spots of char.
  7. Remove from oven, place on cutting board and cut into 6 pieces, drizzle with extra olive oil and a few more pieces of basil, Serve.
Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, editor, and NYU graduate. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
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