gmhTODAY 20 gmhToday June July 2018 - Page 83

Cathy's Kitchen by Cathy Katavich Summer Squash Summer squash belongs to a very large family of plants usually referred to as the gourd family. Winter squashes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and watermelon also belong to this same family of plants. The main difference between summer and winter squash, such as butternut and acorn, is that summer squash has soft, thin skin that is edible. In fact, the term squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word skutasquash meaning “green thing eaten green.” All summer squash can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild flavor that can range from sweet to nutty and though the difference in flavor between varieties is subtle, it’s distinct. The most common varieties of summer squash you’re most likely to cross paths with over the next few months are green zucchini, yellow zucchini, yellow crookneck, Mexican gray, pattypan, and perhaps eight- ball round squash. Zucchini is undoubtedly the most prevalent summer squash. If you’re a gardener, you will have more zucchini growing than you know what to do with! Zucchini is such a prolific vegetable that entire cookbooks have been written about it! Health benefits of squash In terms of nutrient richness, most people would not put summer squash in the “powerhouse” category, like kale and broccoli. However, summer squash has remarkable nutrient richness in all nutrient categories. It’s a key source of antioxidant vitamin C, an excellent source of manganese and zinc, two key antioxidant minerals, a good source of fi ber and protein macronutrients, and very high in phytonutrients like carotenoids. Carotenoid is especially abundant in all the yellow squash varieties, ranking just behind carrots and sweet potatoes. All these key antioxidants help boost immunity and support healthy aging. Plus, since squash is 95% water, it is very low in calories, about 25 per cup of cooked squash. Buying and Cooking Summer Squash If you think you don’t like zucchini, or that it’s boring, it probably wasn’t properly prepared. Contrary to today’s attitudes about vegetable cooking, summer squash is at its worst when cooked to “crisp” tender! It needs cooking time to develop its sweet, nutty fl avor. Although there are differences in the fl avor of different summer squash, their fl avors and textures are so similar that they are usually interchangeable in recipes. Be careful with seasonings – the delicate fl avor can easily be overwhelmed. In the world of squash, bigger is not always better! Squash should be about 6 to 7 inches long or 4 inches wide for the flat varieties. Once they get large they are coarse and stringy! Look for firm squash with few blemishes. Store refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to a week. There are several basic preparations that will bring out the best in your squash: Roasting – cut squash into large chunks or slices and put in large bowl. Add in enough olive oil to coat, then mix in salt, pepper, garlic, or any seasoning you like. Spread onto roasting pan and bake at 450 o F for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Wilting – This should be done any time you plan to serve zucchini raw, such as in a salad. Cut the zucchini into bite size pieces or long slender strips. Put in a colander and salt generously, tossing to coat well. Set it aside over a bowl or sink until the squash softens and liquid is released. Rinse and pat dry. Glazing – Cut the squash into large chunks and put into a pan with enough water to cover the bottom plus a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and some sliced g