June 10, 2020 10:37:13 AM
Quarantine has caused us to do all kinds of things we've never done before...or at least, never done regularly.
Who knew I'd be the type of person who makes a big breakfast every single morning that includes both scrambled eggs and something else, like homemade biscuits or pancakes? (Answer: everyone who knows that I cope with stress by cooking and eating, that's who. But that's beside the point.)
One of the things we've done that had never happened before is growing a garden. It's great because it gives my sweet husband something else to look at besides the mess inside our home (see also: cooking all the time) and the sweet and loving (and loud) faces of the people he lives with.
Our first foray into gardening has also yielded quite a bit of squash. It's thanks to my husband's diligence and attention that this has happened, and he is determined not to waste an iota of it. So we eat squash nearly every night.
When I was a child, I had squash approximately one way: boiled, mashed, and mixed with an egg, some Velveeta or cheddar, and cracker crumbs to make a casserole that was then baked. I'm not going to lie to you: that squash casserole was excellent, and I'd happily eat it to this day.
However, I'd rather not cook my squash twice, and I'd rather not turn on the oven at all if I can help it. To that end, I've come up with a few ways to make our squash taste...well, if not exciting, then at least different. If you are finding a lot of squash or zucchini in your garden -- or if you are taking advantage of the bounty at the farmers market or grocery store -- try a few of these. I think you'll be glad you did.
Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at [email protected]
2-3 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 medium summer squash, zucchini, or a mix, sliced into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garlic powder (optional)
(This is such a basic recipe that I feel a little silly including it. But since I didn't have squash this way until I was in my 20s, I thought maybe someone else out there could use it.) In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted and foamy. Add onion to pan. Cook and mix for a few minutes, until onion begins to soften. Add sliced squash. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Let sit in pan until bottoms become golden, about 5 minutes. Stir and taste. Add seasonings as desired and cook until squash reaches your preferred texture.
SQUOODLES OR ZOODLES
A year or two ago, I bought a special tool for making spiralized vegetables. I finally took it out for a test drive this week and discovered that the multitasking version I bought works very poorly for this particular task. I also don't really love using ALL squash in place of the pasta; I felt like I was getting ripped off. So save your money: slice the squash or zucchini thinly and drop the slices into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes while you cook your regular noodles. You can do this in a separate pot or in the pot along with the regular noodles. You could also add chunks of squash to the sauce instead of the noodles -- just saute it before you add the meat to the pan, and it will be soft enough to practically disappear in the sauce.
There's nothing like frying to turn "ewww...squash" into "mmmm...squash!" Sadly, our youngest detests summer squash so far, but she thinks she loves zucchini because she loved these "fries."
2-3 medium zucchini or summer squash
Tempura mix, mixed according to package directions (I used some I bought on a long-forgotten trip to the Asian market)
OR homemade tempura mix:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch
3/4 cup water
About half an hour before frying time, slice zucchini lengthwise into strips. Lay strips out onto a plate lined with several paper towels. Salt strips liberally. Wait about 20 minutes and then turn strips over and salt the other side and wait. (The salt will draw out some of the moisture and help the batter stick.) Mix up tempura batter ingredients in a shallow bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour oil about ¼ inch deep; when a droplet of water sizzles madly on contact, the oil is ready. Working in batches, coat the strips of zucchini in batter and drop into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan; if your pan cannot hold all the fries at once, complete this step in batches. When batter is set on one side of the fries, turn them to cook the other side(s). When batter is set on all sides, remove fries to a paper-towel lined plate. Taste fries and salt if needed.