I’m hanging on to the last days of summer and enjoying the garden in all of it’s productive glory! Months worth of work are certainly worth it this time of year in terms of a garden. I thought it would be fun to highlight one of my very favorite summer ingredients – summer squash! And maybe you are cute like my Grandma Jane in Indiana and say “skwarsh”. No matter how you say it, it’s delicious. Here’s a little more info on the ever popular and ever producing vegetable.
Ingredient Spotlight: Summer Squashes
Summer Squash Basics:
- Summer squash is the blanket term usually used to describe zucchini, crookneck yellow squash, and pattypan squashes (sometimes called scallop squashes). Zucchini blossoms are also edible. They’re considered a high-end treat. It’s common to see zucchini blossoms stuffed (often with a cheese mixture) and fried.
- This family of squash is one of the most common and oldest cultivated families of vegetable in the US. In fact, it’s part of the Native American cooking “three sisters” along with corn and beans. It’s been a staple in many diets for centuries. One reason is likely how fast and plentifully they grow, as anyone with a zucchini plane will tell you! Let’s get right down to the squashy facts, shall we?
- Summer squash is part of the Cucurbitaceae family, making it a biological relative of both the cucumber and melons!
- Outside of the US, the zucchini is often called courgette. Isn’t that a pretty name?
What are the Health Benefits of Squash?
- Summer squash (zucchini especially) is super low in calories, thanks to the high water content. There are only about 20 calories per cup, making it a great “filler” veggie.
- Despite the high water content, the edible peel is a great source of fiber. It’s also an easily digestible vegetable and won’t likely wreak havoc on your system.
- It’s a great source of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system and protects your cells from free radicals.
- It’s a decent source of the carotenoid family of nutrients, beta carotene (a vitamin A source) to a host of B-vitamins.
- It’s also a decent source of folate, which is important to cell division (one of the reasons that it’s so important to get enough during a pregnancy!)
- Summer squash and zucchini are also a good source of potassium, which helps with blood pressure regulation and electrolyte balance.
How do I choose a good squash?
- Zucchini and summer squash are mostly available year round, but their peak season is good ol’ summertime.
- Thinner skinned, unblemished, and heavy squashes will be the best. They’re likely the freshest and have the most water content. These squashes are fairly fragile, so any big dents or scratches will cause them to decay faster.
- Summer squash ranks 26th on the EWG (Environmental Wellness Group)’s “dirty dozen” list, meaning it’s okay to buy conventional zucchini when you’re on a budget, as they’re less likely to contain any pesticide residue.
How do I store Squash?
- Summer squash and zucchini will last best when stored unwashed in the refrigerator, up to about 1 week.
- While you CAN freeze zucchini, they will lose much of their texture during the process. The best applications for frozen zucchini are things like stir-fries and soups, where you’d be cooking to soften them anyway.
Helpful Tutorials and Recipes:
- How to Grow Zucchini. Depending on where you live, the season’s nearly passed, but just in case you want to get started!
- 18 Zucchini Recipes from right here at Bless This Mess. A great zucchini recipe roundup that has LOTS of great recipes!
- How to spiralize zucchini with a spiralizer via Sonnet’s Kitchen. Haven’t heard of spiralizing? It’s cutting zucchini into the shape of noodles. It’s a great gluten free, low carb, low calorie substitute for pasta that’s getting more popular all the time!
- How to spiralize zucchini with a julienne peeler. via Oh She Glows
- Fried Zucchini Blossoms via the Kitchn and Fried Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms via Giada De Laurentiis. In case you’re feeling fancy.
- Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot
- Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
- Zucchini Boats with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
Thanks so much for stopping in and have a great squash filled day!