Thursday, September 9, 2010

Summer Squash

Late Summer or early Fall is the perfect time of year for summer squash! These delicious and nutritious vegetables are in their best supply and are extremely versatile, so they can be used in a variety of dishes.

Here are some hints and tips for selecting and using summer squash:

  • Look for small, young squash that are heavy for their size. The skin should be tender enough to yield easily to thumb pressure. 
  • Store fresh squash in unsealed plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of refrigerator. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.  
  • Prepare by scrubbing gently with a soft vegetable brush in cold water. Cut slices from each end. Do not remove skin or seeds of squash if tender and young. Cut into desired shape. 
  • Cook in a saucepan over medium head, in 1 inch boiling, salted water. Heat squash to boiling, cover and cook halved squash about 5 minutes, or 3 minutes for sliced squash. 
  • Season with garlic, onion, sesame seed, seasoned salt, and/or pepper. 
  • Serve cooked as a vegetable or use in recipes for stews, casseroles and main dishes. 
  • If zucchini tastes bitter, don't eat it. 
  • One pound of zucchini is equivalent to: three medium zucchini, 2 cups puree, 6 cups sliced, 3 cups diced or 4 1/2 cups shredded zucchini. 
  • Freeze blanched and shredded zucchini in pineapple juice. Use in salads, desserts and bread recipes are you would crushed pineapple. 
  • Use all varieties of summer squash in salads and on relish trays. 
  • Use slices of zucchini in place of crackers for cheese, dips or spreads. 
For ideas on how to use summer squash and other fruits & vegetables, download a free copy of USDA & MSU Extension's Project FRESH cookbook.