Yes – you may intrerchange summer squash with zucchini in your recipes…just in case you’re wondering. The biggest difference is that zucchini is the only one Ralph’s Farm Market offers year round.
The appearance of all the varied fresh summer squash provides a delightful display of healthy choices. Delicious too! Summer squash differs from their winter elders by their tender juicy flesh – the perfect companion for summer salads and ratatouille. Summer squash is grown as a soft-shelled, immature fruit with edible thin skins and seeds.
Shaped like a pear with a mild flavour similar to zucchin. Easily recognized with a pale green, creased rind. Once opened, you’ll find a single soft seed in the center.
How To Enjoy – This resourceful vegetable that can be boiled, fried, sautéed, added to soups, stuffed or served as a salad. They are also called Mirlitons.
Its shapely form is rounded at the bottom with a tapering curved neck at the top or vine end. When young, its colour is light yellow with slightly bumpy skin; as it matures, this vegetable becomes more bumpy and turns deep yellow. Its pale meaty flesh has a slightly sweet flavour – cooked or raw.
How to Enjoy – This summer squash can be used in soups, stew, and side dishes with either raw, baked, steamed, broiled, or sautéed preparation. Fortunately this vegetable may be frozen as well.
Also known as Zucchini. Read description of Zucchini below.
With origins in Asia, it is long and narrow in shape – very similar to zucchini. The skin varies from yellow to green while the flesh, is firmly textured white spattered with seeds. As this squash matures, the mild taste gradually becomes more bitter.
How To Enjoy – Great for sautéing, stir-frying, or added to soups and stews.
Other names – Bottle Gourd, Hu Lu Gua, Long Melon, Long Squash, Peh Poh, and Woo Lo Kua.
Like a spinning top with scalloped edges, it varies from light green, white or yellow. The pale green variety turns to white when fully matured. Smaller in size as it ranges from 1 to 4 inches in diameter.
How to Enjoy – Smaller squash like these are often steamed or braised to be tossed into a vegetable dish, to achieve a slightly sweet, nutty flavour. When they are larger, the top can be sliced off and flesh scooped out to create a bowl for stuffing and baking with meats, vegetables, onions, cheese, etc.
Very small in size with an acorn-shaped smooth outer skin – its midsection edged with a scalloping.
How to Enjoy – Steamed, sautéed or boiled works well for the delicately mild flavour. Served raw, it is often used as an appetizer with dip, or tossed into salads, soups and stews.
Whether it is crooked or straightnecked, its flavour and texture are much like zucchini – younger squash being the most sweet.
Zucchini is the best-known type of summer squash with a varying skin colour – dark green to yellow that may be adorned with light specs or stripes. Regardless of colour, it protects an off-white flesh. Zucchini – a great way to get veggies into the kids – in pasta sauces, for instance.
The most flavourful size is much like a cucumber in size and shape – harvested at 7 to 8 inches long. Large zucchini lose their tenderness and are much less flavourful. So by early September, vegetable gardeners who grow zucchini have become extremely generous, sharing the plant’s overwhelming bounty with families, friends, and neighbours.
How To Enjoy Zucchini can be steamed, fried, sautéed, or baked and they are excellent when sliced and grilled. Wonderful, also, as an appetizer: Simply top with mozzarella cheese and a dollop of salsa sauce before a quick broil.
Alternate names: Courgette or Green Squash.
HOW TO CHOOSE
The peak time for Ralph’s local BC crop is early summer to late summer. As an import, zucchini is available year round.
Thin skinned and delicate, summer squash are picked immature while they are still tender, (before the rind hardens, unlike Winter Squash) and are generally eaten within a short period of time since they are very perishable.
Avoid rust spots, bruises, cracks, and a dull appearance – all an indication that the squash is not fresh. Do not select this vegetable when overly large because there is a fibrous and bitterness tendency. On the other hand, too small of squash will lack flavour as well.
Step 1 Wash summer squash under cool running water just before using. Cut both ends off. The tender soft skins of summer squash do not need to be peeled. Before cooking the squash, prepare as follows:
Step 2 Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.
Step 3 The squash can then be quartered, cubed, sliced, cut into sticks, grated, or left in halves and then cooked – whatever technique called for by the recipe.
Step 4 Draining Summer Squash must take place due to its high water content. Drain by arranging cut pieces in a shallow dish, and sprinkle with salt. After 20 to 30 minutes, rinse under cold running water and pat dry.
- Eaten raw: add to salads, make a slaw, juice them, use in a crudités platter, as an alternative ‘cracker’ for snacks & appetizers, or on sandwiches
- Cut into julienned pieces for dipping
- For salads, slice in the same manner as cucumbers
- Sautéed with onions and tomatoes
- Added to other vegetables, casseroles, simmered in stews and soups – add towards the end of cooking time
- Roasted: Slice zucchini and crookneck squash lengthwise, brush with olive oil, and roast with sliced onions and red sweet peppers
- Grated a fried as ‘latkes’ (veggie pancakes)
- Coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried
- Stir-fried: Delicious when allowed time to caramelized:
- Slice it in rounds about a quarter of an inch thick
- Chop up onions about the same size
- Smash & chop a garlic clove
- Heat the pan on HI before adding some olive oil (turn down heat if the oil begins to smoke)
Add the vegetables noted above. Cook them in shifts so the pan is not overcrowded.Steaming the veggies is not the goal – carmelize them to a nice brown colour, then flip them over
- Add salt and pepper to taste and grated cheese is optional.
- Add stuffing and bake together
- Excellent when sliced and grilled
- Top a pizza or add to spaghetti
- Dessert: Most summer squash, can be grated and baked to become loaves, cakes, and muffins.
Complimentary Seasonings Onions, tomatoes, fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram in particular, as well as cheese. Adding brown sugar, honey or maple syrup to your cooking will produce a sweeter tasting squash.
- Summer squash requires only a short cooking time.
- Julienned pieces of summer squash are good served with vegetable dips.
- Appropriate cooking methods will evaporate some of the moisture in the squash, such as baking and grilling.
Boil – Not recommended because due to the high water content in summer squash. If determined, however, try one of the following 2 methods:
- Whole Uncut Squash Use as little water possible to boil. Poke holes into the uncut, unpeeled squash skin, and boil covered for up to 1 hour. Test for tenderness by poking with a fork.
- Cubed Squash Leave squash unpeeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Place in a pan with very little water and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Cook until just tender.
- Cut squash in half, remove seeds. The skin should remain on the squash.
- Add a bit of butter to open cavity of each half.
- Place the squash cavity side up in a baking dish with 1 inch of water.
- Bake for 20 minutes to 1 hour, until desired tenderness.
Steaming – A good method for cooking summer squash:
- Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.
- Cut squash to the desired size and then place them on the steam rack in a saucepan.
- Steam until tender, which will generally take 20 to 45 minutes. The amount of time will vary depending on the quantity and size of pieces being steamed.
- Cut squash in half, remove seeds
- Place squash cavity down on a microwave safe plate
- Poke skin once or twice to allow some steam to escape
- Cover with damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 5 to 20 minutes, until desired tenderness
Step 1 Cut squash into 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick slices and then place on skewers (If bamboo, soaked skewers in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use.).
Brush both sides of squash slices with melted butter or cooking oil before placing on the grill
Place squash on the grill over direct medium heat.
Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, turning when first side is browned.
The squash is done when it is nicely browned on each side and is tender when poked with a fork. Serve while hot.
Total Fat: 0.31g
*Good source of: Vitamin C (10.9mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.