Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

Featured Item—Summer Squash

You know it is truly summer when the summer squash is ready.It may be a familiar vegetable, but it is so plentiful this time of year that it is fun to come across new recipes and ideas.

Summer squash is the generic term that encompasses the yellow and green squash varieties such as zucchini, crookneck, straight neck, and patty pan.Because it is mild and tends to take on rather than overpower other ingredients, summer squash is a very versatile vegetable that can be prepared in a dizzying amount of ways. The whole vegetable is edible both raw and cooked.It just needs a bit of rinsing and off you go.Even its flower is delicious coated in batter and fried, or stuffed with cheese and topped with marinara sauce.

Farm fresh summer squash should be refrigerated unwashed and stored loosely in plastic in order to preserve moisture and retard spoilage.Supermarket varieties are often waxed, which reduces the need for refrigeration.Once refrigerated, summer squash should last about a week.

Medium-sized squash that are unblemished and heavy for their size will be most tender.As they get larger the flesh can become more fibrous and the seeds harder.

Preparation methods for summer squash are endless.Below are listed several ideas:

  • Raw
  • Sliced for crudités or in salad
  • Shredded and mixed with favorite coleslaw ingredients
  • Sliced very thin and sprinkled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and a grated or shaved sharp cheese (e.g. Asiago).
  • Shaved with vegetable peeler into ribbons and tossed with a vinaigrette
  • Shredded and used in place of cucumber for Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Sauce) or added to favorite dip recipes for texture.
  • Boiled
  • Sliced, diced or shredded and blanched until just tender –many people do this before freezing
  • Boiled, drained and mashed for puree with favorite add-ins (herbs, cheese, butter, cream)
  • Boiled in broth and then pureed into a soup
  • Used as a late addition to chilis, soups, stews
  • Sautéed
  • Ratatouille
  • Stir fry
  • Sliced, diced or shaved into ribbons and sautéed with olive oil or butter with garlic and your favorite herbs.
  • Mixed with breadcrumbs and other “crab cake-like” like ingredients, shaped into patties, and then sautéed until brown in butter or oil.
  • Baked
  • Halved, hollowed out, and stuffed with your favorite stuffing (e.g. breadcrumbs, sautéed vegetables, cooked sausage or ground meat, rice mixtures, quinoa).Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes
  • Sliced and baked into casseroles, quiches, or tarts
  • Sliced or left whole and baked until tender
  • Fried
  • Tempura battered
  • Breaded and either oven or deep-fried
  • Grilled
  • Shish-kabobs
  • Sliced lengthwise and tossed in your favorite marinade or oil before grilling
  • Baked Goods
  • Shredded and added to muffin and cake batters. It is good to use specific recipes because the added moisture in the squash can affect the finished product.


  • Shredded, cooked, and added to marinara sauce
  • Shredded and added to meatloaf or meatball recipes.Use it to increase moisture with leaner meats. (i.e. turkey)
  • Cut in ribbons, sautéed briefly, and used in your favorite fettuccini recipe

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

Because summer squash grows so well, there is often a glut of it in farms and home gardens. However, there seems to be no clear answer as to whether or not, and how, it should be frozen.Some folks believe it ought to be blanched first, but others say it doesn’t matter.Most people do agree that freezing results in the significant release of water and a potentially altered texture (mushy or spongy).I personally have never tried to freeze it unless it was in a soup, in which case the release of water or soft texture wasn’t really a problem.It seems to me that it is something everyone must try for him/herself to see if the results are personally acceptable.However, it you would like to share your experiences with the CSA respond to the comment section of the blog.

Here are my favorite recipes for zucchini and summer squash. Some of them you may recognize from last year. Enjoy!!


These baked “fries” make a healthy, delicious alternative to fried potatoes.

Baked Summer Squash “Fries”     Serves 4


– 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

– 1/2 (scant) teaspoon garlic salt

– 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

– 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

– 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

– 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

– 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

– 3 egg whites, lightly beaten

– 2 medium squash or zucchini, washed and sliced into 1/8-1/4″ slices


1.Position oven rack in center position.Preheat oven to 475 degrees.Line baking sheet with foil.Spray foil generously with high-heat resistant cooking spray (like grill or canola spray—avoid olive oil).

2.In a small shallow bowl, mix breadcrumbs, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese until well blended.In separate small shallow bowl, whisk egg whites and Dijon until smooth.

3.Dip squash slices in egg mixture and coat completely.Allow excess egg to drip off.Toss in breadcrumb mixture and coat completely.Place on prepared baking sheet.Continue with remaining squash.

4.Spray tops of coated squash slices generously with cooking spray.Place in oven and bake about 7-8 minutes or until tops and edges begin to brown.Turn slices over and continue to bake for 2-3 more minutes, or until slices are golden on both tops and bottoms, about 10-12 minutes total.Cool for 5 minutes.Best when eaten immediately.


The thinner the slices, the crispier the fries.Fries are great dipped in ranch dressing.


This dish is the epitome of summer.It was adapted from the Gardener’s Community Cookbook, by Victoria Wise.Be sure to make it when the PYO cherry tomatoes are available.

Mediterranean Baked Squash      Serves 6


– 2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

– 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

– 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic

– 3/4 pound zucchini, sliced ¼” thick

– 3/4 pound summer squash, sliced ¼” thick

– 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

– 1/4 cup roughly chopped pitted Kalamata olives

– 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese


1.Preheat oven to 425.Coat a 9 X 13 baking dish (like a Pyrex) with oil or cooking spray.

2.Place squash, thyme, garlic, tomatoes, olives, and feta in a bowl.Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat evenly.Pour mixture in prepared baking pan.Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is tender but tomatoes haven’t lost their shape.


This cake is pure decadence.No one will know it is rather healthful and light.

Healthier Triple Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake       makes 20 snack slices


– 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

– 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil

– 1 3/4 cups sugar

– 2 large eggs

– 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 cup white whole wheat flour

– 1/2 cup good quality Dutch Process Cocoa, like Drost

– 1 teaspoon baking soda

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

– 1 cup bittersweet baking chocolate chips, like Ghirardelli 60% cocoa

– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

-2 cups grated zucchini


1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Grease a 9 X 13 cake pan.

2.In a medium bowl, whisk flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt.Set aside.

3.In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave chopped chocolate in 10-15 second intervals at 50% power, stirring well after each interval, until chocolate is melted and smooth.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat oil, sugar, applesauce and vanilla on medium-low speed for 1 minute. With mixer on low, gradually add melted chocolate (mixture may look curdled).Add eggs, one at time, mixing just until incorporated.Alternate adding buttermilk and flour mixture on low, mixing just until combined before continuing.Do not overbeat.

5.With a spatula, fold in zucchini and chocolate chips until incorporated.Pour into prepared pan, spreading batter evenly and smoothing top.

6.Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean.(do not over bake or cake will get dry).Cool on wire rack for 1 hour or serve warm.


Most supermarkets now carry King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour.This flour has all the nutritional properties of regular whole wheat flour, but leads to more tender baked goods.


These incredibly easy mini tartlets will truly impress your guests.Keep some in the freezer for last minute entertaining.

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tartlets               makes 24


– 1 box Pillsbury prepared pie dough, thawed in refrigerator

– 1 medium shallot, minced

– 1 teaspoon olive oil

– 1 medium zucchini, shredded

– 1 4 ounce package goat cheese

– ¼ cup home-made or prepared basil pesto

– 12 large cherry tomatoes, halved


1. Preheat oven to 425.Place pie dough on counter for about 10 minutes to soften and make it easier to unroll.Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.Add shallots and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and water has released and evaporated, about 8 minutes.Remove from heat.Add goat cheese and mix until goat cheese is melted and fully incorporated into zucchini mixture.Set aside to cool while preparing the rest of the recipe.

2. Unroll pastry dough and using a 2 3/8” round cutter, cut out pastry rounds and tamp into a mini muffin pan.Fill each cup with a ¼ teaspoon of pesto, followed by a heaping teaspoon of zucchini mixture.Zucchini mixture should just about fill each pastry case.Top each tart with half a tomato.

3. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until crust is golden.Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Using a small, thin knife, carefully remove tartlets from pans and allow to cool. (Can be frozen for up to 4 months.Place in oven directly from freezer)


Summer squash ribbons make an excellent filling for tacos, especially when sautéed with poblano pepper and spiked with Mexican beer!!The filling is also great on its own as a side dish.

Summer Squash and Poblano Soft Tacos      Serves 4


– 2 teaspoons peanut oil

– 1/2 onion, very thinly sliced

– 1 small poblano pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning

– 1/2 cup Mexican beer, I like Modelo Negro (or use a lighter beer for lighter flavor)

– 3 medium summer squash, washed well, ends cut off

– 12 corn tortillas

– 1/2 cup crumbed Queso Fresco or feta cheese

– Chopped lettuce

– Chopped tomato


1. Use a vegetable peeler to cut ribbons from each squash, turning squash around and occasionally switching ends as you go.Stop when you get to the middle part with seeds.Reserve middle part of squash for stock or soup.Gather the ribbons together and set aside while you prepare the rest of the filling.

2. In a 12-inch sauté pan, heat peanut oil over medium-low heat until hot.Add onion and poblano and cook until vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 7 minutes.Add garlic and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute.Turn heat up to medium-high.Add beer and Mexican seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until beer is almost cooked off, about 7 minutes more.Add squash ribbons, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is crisp tender and most of water has cooked off.Add additional salt, if needed.

3. Heat tortillas (I like to cook them right on the gas burner with a low flame 10-15 seconds on each side, carefully turning and removing with tongs.Another easy way is to stack on a microwave safe-plate, top with a damp paper towel and microwave for about 20 seconds).Place filling, cheese, and desired toppings in warm tortillas and serve immediately.

Mexican Seasoning     Makes 3 tablespoons


– 1 tablespoon chili powder

– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, heaping

– 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, heaping

– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or less, according to desired degree of heat

– 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1/2 teaspoon paprika

– 2 teaspoons ground cumin

– 1 teaspoon coarse salt

– 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Mix well and store in airtight container.I like to grind the mixture in a mortar and pestle to release flavors.


Regular hummus can be a bit heavy, but the squash in this recipe gives the hummus a lighter texture and slightly sweet taste.Delicious!!

Summer Squash Hummus      makes 2 cups


– 2 teaspoons olive oil

– 1 medium summer squash or zucchini, washed and shredded

– 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

– 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

– 2 tablespoons lemon juice

– 3 tablespoons tahini

– 1 teaspoon ground cumin

– 1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more to garnish

– 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.Add summer squash and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and water has been cooked off, about 5-7 minutes.Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. In a food processor or blender, place cooled squash.Add garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, paprika, salt and 1 tablespoon water.Blend until very smooth.Add more water to reach desired consistency.Place in a shallow bowl.Garnish with parsley and a sprinkle of paprika.Serve with veggies and pita chips.

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