Squash FAT With Squash!
As summer ends and fall begins whispering cool messages in the breeze, fields and markets are bursting with a cornucopia of inexpensive seasonal squashes.
With thinner skins than winter varieties, they come in a multitude of shapes and colors.
Long, cylindrical green zucchini is popular in dishes from ratatouille to cinnamon bread. Pattypan is like a plate with scalloped edges, usually white but sometimes yellow or green.
The crookneck or straightneck squash is usually yellow and thinner at the stem than the blossom end.
Nearly 95 percent water, these bundles of low-cal goodness deliver anti-inflammatory beta-carotene and immune-boosting antioxidants.
The tiny amount of fat – about half a gram per cup – includes omega-3s, and it’s found mostly in the seeds.
A cup of cooked pattypan squash has just 30 calories but it offers 3.4 grams of fiber – 14 percent of the recommended daily value.
In addition to fiber, squash is an excellent source of magnesium as well as vitamins C, B6, and A.
Archaeologists have discovered that native Americans cultivated summer squashes more than 10,000 years ago. A New World vegetable, squash quickly became popular in Europe when Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought it back on their voyages.
Now squash has confirmed worldwide appeal: The largest producers are the United States, China, India, and Russia. More than five billion metric tons of squash are harvested every year.
Cooking With Squash
Choose summer squash that is heavy for its size with shiny, unblemished rind. Pass over the overly ripe ones with hard skins.
Look for medium-sized squash because huge ones invariably turn out to be stringy with hard seeds, while the tiny ones are flavorless.
You can store unwashed squash in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for about a week. Freezing turns the insides a bit mushy but retains the nutrients so if you find yourself with wheelbarrows of squash, you can steam and freeze in plastic bags.
With its soft skin, summer squash is easy to prepare, requiring minimal cooking. Julienne, dice, or grate into salads. You’ll find squash melds beautifully with other seasonal fare such as corn, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
Wash squash under cool water and cut off the ends. Slice and sauté in a drizzle of olive oil with onions and dill or rosemary. Don’t boil squash – if you do, you’ll wash away nutrients.
You can include squash in salsa, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, or egg dishes. Try it whenever you want to add bulk to fill you up with fewer calories.
Try cooking with squash flowers, especially bright orange zucchini blossoms. The Hopi and Navajo were dining on them long before the Europeans visited America. Stuff, steam, bake, or deep-fry squash flowers.
The Squash Blossom Quesadilla in the Turquoise Room of La Posada in Winslow, Arizona, is a creative and delicious example of squash-blossom cuisine.
Add these colorful blossoms to your culinary adventure bucket list.