To be honest, I was originally just going to post this under normal food business, because it really is so simple that I didn’t think much of it at first. But the more I ate it, the more I decided that this was a true Vegetable Therapist recipe. If you try this preparation, and you still hate the vegetable in question, neither love nor money is going to make you learn to like it.
I’m talking about summer squash. Just like I promised I would, way back when!
To be fair, I don’t know a ton of people who HATE summer squash (actually, if you do fall into this category, could you let me know in the comments?). For the most part, people tend to be pretty meh about the whole experience. And who could blame them? Unlike their sweet and assertive winter cousins, summer squash are a bit of a meh vegetable. Oh, sure, they’re high in manganese (a powerful antioxidant) and vitamin C (ditto) and magnesium (good for the blood!). But taste-wise, they’re kind of watery, right? With a flavor charitably dubbed delicate, but we all know that’s code-word for bland. Zucchini and their ilk are best served by dredging in breadcrumbs and frying, or eating raw and loading with dip, right? Lucky they’re so low in calories so we can load them back up!
What if I told you there was another way? A better way. One that allowed the poor, ugly-duckling summer squash shine like a beautiful vegetable swan?
My friends, I’m talking about sauteing.
Now, I realize that this probably isn’t a totally radical concept for most of you. You may have sauteed a zucchini or two. And I’m not even saying it’s the only way to enjoy this noble vegetable – my dad loves to shred them up and make veggie pancakes, which are insanely delicious, and I haven’t even begun to touch the wonders of zucchini spears, lightly oiled and rolled with garlic and seared on the grill. But friends, this recipe I made tonight was so simple, and perfect, and just everything I hoped summer squash could be, that it’s the one I’m going to focus on right now. A way to love summer squash for its own sweet self. Besides, I just made it up!
The squash I used was pattypan from the Dewey Square Farmer’s Market, although honestly summer squashes are pretty much interchangeable. If you have one million zucchini, use those. I like pattypan mostly because they look like little flying saucers or Pac-Man ghosts:
So here’s what I did! First, I heated some butter and oil in a pan, about 1 tbsp of each. Keep the heat about medium low. Vegan friends, use 2 tbsps of oil, or as much as you need to keep your squash from sticking to the pan.
Next, I put two cloves of garlic, roughly chopped, and 2 spring onions, thinly sliced into the hot oils, and let them soften. You could probably sub in half of a regular, medium-sized onion if that’s all you had on hand, or a couple of shallots could be great, too!
Then I threw in my squash, sliced paper-thin. To this I added salt, freshly ground pepper, and a handful of basil from my garden!
Once the squash had started to cook and release a bit of water, I added a handful of pine nuts. I continued cooking for about 10-15 minutes, until all of the squash was tender, and the tiniest pieces were starting to brown.
The result was the most tender, sweet summer squash imaginable, buttery and flavored with basil. With the nutty rice and pine nuts, and the slightly acidic tomato, this was pure vegetable heaven. I seriously think I ate about a pound of squash, it was so good.
The best part is what a quintessential summer dish this is, with the tomatoes and basil. Everyone’s always got too much zucchini – now you’ve got something to do with it!
A quick housekeeping note – we are about to reach 100 posts here on Adventures in Food! It doesn’t seem possible, but here we are. I’ll try to come up with something special for the 100th post. I’ve also been thinking of better ways to organize the blog and topics to cover. If there’s anything you’d like to see, let me know in the comments!