Zucchini gets the most attention as a summer squash, and it’s easy to see why: it’s easy to grow, easy to cook, and mild enough in flavor to be super versatile. But if you have other varieties growing in your garden or pick up some lovely looking squash at the farmer’s market, there are a plethora of uses for these vegetal fruits. Here are some ideas.
Add it to baked goods
Zucchini bread isn’t the only way to bake a summer squash. In fact, many different varieties of squash can be used in place of zucchini in muffins or bread—try this Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe by shredding any type of summer squash you have on hand.
You can also cook and blend the squash to create a puree akin to pumpkin pie filling, which can be incorporated into pies or quick breads; adding chocolate chips is optional but recommended. If the squash is primarily being added for its moisture, you can add spices and/or cheeses for a savory bread. Any cooked, pureed squash can be swapped in for the pumpkin in this pumpkin muffin recipe, too.
Kebabs are my favorite thing to make with summer squash. My kids even like helping me assemble them because of the multicolored presentation and the opportunity to stab things. To make a true rainbow, I use red and orange peppers, yellow or crookneck squash, green zucchini or tromboncino, and purple onions. I season with salt and pepper, then I go one of two routes: adding this Nonna Pia’s balsamic glaze, or a combination of cumin and chili powder if I want a more fajita-like end product. I grill them for about five minutes on each side, depending on how thick the veggies are cut, and check for doneness with a fork.
You can also slice the squash into thin slices for grilling, or slice it in half and slap it on the grate as you might do with a slab of meat. There are also grill-safe containers if you want to cook them all cut up in smaller pieces. Good old-fashioned aluminum foil is also a good container for grilling veggies, especially if you have an interesting marinade on them. Use chopped grilled squash as a side or mixed into salads.
I was surprised to discover just how satisfying squash fritters are. The secret, of course, is lots of salt. There are many spices you can add to the mix, and you can also sneak in some other veggies, too, like spinach or peppers cut up really small. These are good at breakfast alongside some eggs, at lunch paired with a salad, at dinner next to chicken, or on their own as a snack. Use Middle Eastern or Indian spices in the preparation of the fritters and pair the finished product with some yogurt dip.
Turn it into chips
For the types of squash that slice well, like zucchini, tromboncino, and all yellow squash varieties, making chips might actually make your picky child (or spouse) enjoy eating their veggies (okay, yes, squash is a fruit, but try telling a picky eater that). Squash chips are a good candidate for your air fryer, if you’re into those. Or you can opt for the British version of chips and make oven-baked squash fries.
Use it in (or as) pasta
Many people like the idea of “zoodles,” aka zucchini noodles, which is something you can do with just about any squash that will hold its shape when spiralized. The secret to using squash-based noodles is cooking them in a frying pan for only a little bit of time; otherwise they get too soft and fall apart. Use lots of flavor to counteract the relative blandness of the zoodles (garlic is an obvious favorite). Alternatively, you can combine squash noodles and regular noodles for a filling meal with fewer carbs.
I also frequently cook pasta primavera with squash, which is a fresher pasta dish than some made with heavy cream or chunky tomato sauces. I’ve also had huge success making Boursin cheese sauce and mixing it into pasta along with a bunch of summer veggies (sort of like this). Pesto made from zucchini or other summer squash is a good, light adornment for pasta. And though its season starts slightly later in the year, butternut squash mac and cheese nearly tricked my children once. The adults loved it.
Sturdy squash can make for a good base level for appetizers, like these “bites” or these “bites.” For more of a bar-food vibe with some added class, you can make these squash tots and dip. Finally, these savory mini muffin cups are a perfect finger food or brunch side.
You can pickle your summer squash. Or ferment it. Or freeze chunks of it to pull out in the colder months for a fresh addition to your home-cooked meals. It can also be dried for later use; simply add it to soups at the end of cooking or let it soak in water for five minutes before using. If you make a casserole or gratin with your summer squash, those dishes will often keep well frozen, too, so you can prep them during peak season and eat them at your leisure.
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