Zucchini & Yellow Squash

Three years ago in a tiny dark but trendy adobe walled restaurant in downtown Albuquerque I was reminded that squash is an old world food, that Europeans had settled New Mexico almost five hundred years ago, and that ever since that time people of this region have cooked summer squash simply in butter. I suddenly learned that summer squash was not a bad vegetable, it was just one more vegetable that I had never before tasted properly cooked.

There exist recipes for zucchini and yellow squash involved stuffing them with something tasty. It's got to contain cheese and bread and butter and herbs. And it might contain bacon or ham. Well, this is a lot of work and it doesn't go far in improving the squash. The squash is still squash, just stuffed with other things - the sugar that makes the medicine go down. If you like squash steamed, then go ahead and stuff it with cool things. If not, keep looking.

I notice that one of the Indian dishes I enjoy is a fritter constructed of chick pea flour and grated zucchini and fried. This is quite a tasty way to enjoy zucchini, especially since the fritters are served belly-deep in a buttery, creamy curry sauce.

Interestingly, one of the best uses for zucchini is in quick breads and cakes. Zucchini helps keep the cake moist as it cooks. Zucchini bread can be full of nuts or dried fruits or spices or all three. It can be fashioned as a snack bread, a table bread, or a dessert cake. And it can be relatively quick to make.

Evidently I am not alone in my ambivalence about zucchini. Here is a recipe by a gardener who grows her own zucchini labelled as "The best zucchini recipe ever."


Baked Summer Squash
My version misses three or four subtle points, but it does make the point that summer squash can be delicious. Select summer squash that is young, small, firm. Slice summer squash into rings just less than one inch thick. Use a microwave to melt real butter in a pyrex casserole pan, 2 tbs per pound of squash. Arrange the squash in one layer in the casserole. Sprinkle very lightly with kosher salt. Cook at 375F for 45 minutes to 60 minutes until the top surface has at least some golden color. I like it a little darker. You might try turning the squash upside down just as it begins to brown.

This recipe is really really simple. Yet when it is done well, it turns yellow squash into great cuisine.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Recipes