How to Cook and Use Summer Squash

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©2011 Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)

Squash has been cultivated for 10,000 years, evolving from a bitter vegetable to the sweet variety we have today.  Summer squash is a prolific and easy to grow vegetable in your garden, providing a bounty for your table.  The summer squash we are familiar with—crookneck, straightneck, zucchini and pattypan—developed from wild squash that grew in Mexico and Guatemala.  Summer squash is in the Cucurbitaceae family and is related to the cucumber and melon.  The skin, flesh and seeds of summer squash are all edible as well as the flowers.

Summer Squash Varieties

Crookneck and Straightneck Squash:  Both have yellow skin with a creamy white flesh.  Commonly called yellow squash.

Zucchini:  Green and looks like a cucumber.  The skin of zucchini is green or yellow and beautifully speckled or striped.  The creamy white flesh is tender and the flowers are used in Italian and French recipes.

Pattypan squash:  Pattypan squash is saucer-shaped, pale green or yellow and has a denser and sweeter flesh than zucchini.  The best pattypan squash are 4 inches in diameter or less.

How to Cook and Use Summer Squash

Try these summer squash recipes to use up all that squash from your garden.  Favorite ways to use squash are raw, cooked and stuffed.  For the best flavor and to retain nutrients, do not overcook squash.  Sauteeing for just 3 minutes will provide a flavor and keep it nutrient rich.

Zucchini Salad

2 medium zucchini, grated

2 medium carrots, grated

1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped

1 teaspoon oregano, chopped

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients and add 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or 1 cup yogurt for a creamy dressing.

Marinated Zucchini

2 medium Zucchini, cut in ¼ in slices


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste

Whisk all marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the zucchini and marinate 1 to 3 hours.

Stuffed Summer Squash (or Zucchini Boats)

Remove the stem and cut the yellow squash or zucchini lengthwise.  Remove the seeds and add your choice of filling.



Cottage cheese

Grated cheese, tuna, tomato, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese.  A favorite in Italy.

Garlic, raisins, mint, dill.  A recipe from Greece.

Rice, raisins, mint, dill.  Traditional recipe from Turkey.

Sautéed Summer Squash

1 lb medium summer squash, cut in ¼ inch slices

3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth

Mediterranean Dressing:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped, let set 5 minutes

Sea salt, pepper to taste

Heat the broth, add the summer squash and sauté 3 minutes.  Toss the summer squash in a bowl with the Mediterranean Dressing.

Optional ingredients to add to the Sautéed Summer Squash recipe

  • Mix cottage cheese with minced mint and marjoram
  • Add Kalamata olives
  • Top with Parmesan cheese
  • Top with feta cheese
  • Top with crumbled goat cheese
  • Add chopped tomatoes, peppers, red onions and 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • Add basil, dill, oregano and rosemary
  • Add chopped anchovies
  • Add capers

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