News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Family and Food: Savory Summer Squashes

JCCHD | Wed, June 20, 2012 | [Family and Food][Healthcare]

Summer squashes, all belonging to the species Cucurbita Pepo, have been harvested since at least 8000 BCE. The word “squash” was derived from a combination of several Indian words for vegetables, all meaning “something eaten raw.”  Summer squashes include cousa squash, pattypan squash (also known as scallop squash), yellow crookneck squash, yellow summer squash, and zucchini (also known as courgette).

Summer and winter squashes differ not only by name, but also in the timing of harvest. Summer squashes have a shorter life span—they’re harvested at around 50 days, while still young and tender. At the time of harvest the rind is tender and edible, instead of thick and hard like winter squashes, which are harvested at maturity (around 95-115 days). Oddly enough summer squashes are generally available during the winter and winter squashes during the summer. Winter squashes are named for the fact that they can last until winter and have a longer life span.

When selecting a summer squash, look for glossy, medium-sized options that seem heavy for their size. They should be kept refrigerated and used within 3-4 days. Squashes can be used in almost any dish, in a variety of ways. Squash can be enjoyed raw; grated into breads, pancakes, or muffins; added to soups, casseroles, or stews; roasted; or baked.

Summer squashes are very nutrient-dense. They are low in calories, at only 36 per serving, and basically fat-free. Squash helps keep your colon healthy (by providing bulky fibers), is heart-healthy, a good source of antioxidants, and rich in vitamins and minerals. Squash is also a good source of potassium (346 mg per serving).

Try some of these delicious recipes to add summer squash into your family’s diet:

Pan Fried Squash

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups diced yellow squash
2 cups diced zucchini
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the yellow squash and zucchini; cook and stir until lightly browned and tender. Transfer to a bowl, and toss with balsamic vinegar.

Printable recipe

Adapted from:

Pattypan Squash Fritters

Oil (for frying)
2 eggs
½ cup milk substitute
2 cups pattypan squash (shredded)
1 tsp oil
1 cup rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1. Before shredding, cut out the stem of the squash, but there’s no need to peel it.
2. If the squash is large, more than 4 inches across, you may wish to cut out the bigger seeds.
3. Preheat about 1/2 inch oil over medium-high heat in a deep skillet.
4. Beat the eggs, milk substitute and oil into the squash in a large bowl, then add the rice flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined with a few strokes.
5. Drop tablespoons of batter into hot oil—in a big skillet, you can cook up to 8 at a time.
6. Cook until brown, turn with a spatula and cook the other side until brown.
7. Drain on newspaper or other suitable draining surface.
8. Serve with horseradish sauce, ketchup, etc.

Printable Recipe

Adapted from:

Squash Chips

0live oil
5 medium Yellow Crookneck Squash (or other summer squash), sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh oregano

1. Preheat oven to 200ºF.
2. Coat 1-2 large baking sheets with cooking spray.
3. Place squash in a single layer on baking sheet(s).
4. Spray cooking spray to cover squash.
5. Sprinkle salt and oregano on top.
6. Roast for 1 hour and then rotate trays (if more than 1 used.)
7. Roast about 30 to 60 minutes more or until chips are crisp.

Printable Recipe

Additional references:

Summer Squash