Cooking On A Budget: Perfecting Yellow Summer Squash

Monday, August 29, 2016

Perfecting Yellow Summer Squash

Perfecting Yellow Summer Squash ~ squash is delightfully sweet and delicious and I've been doing it wrong, until now!

When I was little my parents would insist we eat what was put on our plates; that's what baby boomers were taught. There were starving children in the world and we were lucky to have food so just keep it shut and eat it. The alternatives were (depending on which type of parents you had): you don't eat it, you go to bed. Or, you sit there until you eat it and the dreaded threat of no dessert unless you ate it and ultimately the follow through with that. So it was with summer squash. As a child I hated it. So much so I gagged on it. However later in life, probably in my teens I tried it again and it was if the flood gates of my taste buds opened up and my attitude toward squash changed. A 360 degree turn around! I could not get enough of fresh summer squash!
My mother always served the squash mashed with butter, salt and pepper - very simple preparation and I loved it. So I have been making yellow squash that way forever. But I could never figure out why the squash was always watery despite draining it. I would take the drained squash, put it back in the pan to mash with butter and over low heat and then all this water appeared. Although it frustrated me I just continued to do what I always had done - until recently.

I consider my husband to be a wonderful gardener. He's been gardening since before we were married and he when he reads, it is usually a gardening book. This years garden produced a bumper crop of tomatoes and we canned them - two batches so far. He learned early on in our marriage that I always want him to plant yellow summer squash. Unfortunately (for him) he made the mistake (twice no less) of planting crook neck squash versus straight neck. Since I am a squash snob because I like what I like, he now double checks his seeds to make sure he's planting the "right" squash.

While the tomatoes were plenty this year a couple of mishaps happened in the garden. My husband planted corn and when the corn shoots starting popping through the ground the squirrels or chipmunks just randomly pulled some out of the soil. That meant planting more seeds. The corn was picture perfect - beautiful! Then the week when the corn was ready and we were planning a dinner with freshly picked corn from our garden, the worst ever happened. At least 50 blackbirds were in the corn and destroyed all of the corn - every damn ear was pecked to death! So despite all his hard work and despite our anticipation of fresh corn on the cob we were left with zippo, nada, nothing!

And for the squash, well that's another story. The squash grew, it had many blossoms but the squash did not grow more than a few inches. It just did not grow! So for my sake he pulled it all out and re-planted more. Well this new crop has not yielded nearly what we normally would have, but it's been "just enough" for me to enjoy with our meals.

I want to share with you some of my discoveries
about summer squash.

I tried grilling summer squash - it was horrible. Zucchini was fantastic, but yellow squash doesn't do well on the grill in my estimation. I've sauteed it and it's lovely and delicious and of course I boil it and mash it as my mother did and it's incredibly delicious. Then there's adding it to soups or making it a bisque like I did with my Summer Squash Bisque.

What I did differently this year to get the most delicious mashed squash is this:
  • Picking the squash on the young side before it gets really huge. The bigger the squash, the bigger the seeds and more of them!
  • I now peel the squash no matter how thin the skin is and it's made a world of difference.
  • I cut the thicker end of the squash off, halve it, and then remove the seeds with a spoon.
  • I cut the squash in about 1/4 inch slices.
  • To the sauce pot I only put about 1/2 to 3/4 inches of water.
  • I season the squash with salt and cook over high heat (covered) until it comes to a boil.
  • Then let the squash boil about 3 minutes, stir and re-cover and turn the heat down slightly.
  • Keep a watch and you'll see the squash releases its own water. Quite a bit of it.
  • When the squash begins to soften I go in with my potato masher and mash and mash. I lid it again for a minute and let it cook.
  • At this point remove the lid, mash a bit more and let it bubble and cook for about 8-10 minutes. What happens here is evaporation of some of the water produced by the squash. Stir occasionally.
  • To drain: I now use a fine mesh sieve versus my colander. Shake the mashed squash about until the water drips out. Do that a few times to remove as much water as you can.
  • Return your mashed squash to the pan, season with black pepper and add butter - and you'll see just perfectly cooked delicious buttery squash!

If you only have sauteed yellow squash, try this method and see if you like it. Perhaps if you didn't like yellow squash before, now is the time to try it. Should you not have a garden the best place to get good squash is at a farmer's market. Grocery store is okay, but truly not the same as freshly picked!

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