Vegetable junk mail

Summer and early fall means an abundance of zucchini and yellow summer squash. An ABUNDANCE. It’s watery, bland, and grows like a weed. I used to think of it as the junk mail in our CSA share – a necessary evil that’s delivered alongside tomatoes, cukes, peppers, and lettuce. I’ve always dreaded dealing with summer squash, but this summer, I discovered two pretty fabulous ways to prepare it: Julia Child’s  Zucchini Tian from Food 52’s Genius Recipes cookbook, and Nom Nom Paleo’s chilled asian zoodle salad with ginger sesame dressing from Nom Nom Paleo’s Ready or Not book that came out last month.

And as great as those recipes are – today?  I ain’t got time for that. I’ve got work, kids, a truly filthy bathroom, and YES, SUMMER SQUASH, I HEAR YOU, YES, I WILL COOK YOU BEFORE YOU TURN LIMP AND SAD IN MY FRIDGE! So I cooked it simply in a rip-roaring hot pan with ghee.  A few minutes of sautéing until carmelized prevents it from getting soggy, and I swear the outside tastes a little like french toast, ESPECIALLY if you haven’t had french toast in a while. The key is that you can’t over crowd the pan, and you really have to wait for the squash to brown before you pull it off the heat.

I started with a teaspoon of my favorite ghee ever, and threw in the zucchini.    See how those edges start to brown?

IMG_5023IMG_5056

A little bit browner now

IMG_5057.jpg

And at last!  Pull them off the heat when they’re nicely browned on all sides.

IMG_5058

Sautéed summer squash isn’t fancy or revolutionary, but it’s a nice way to prepare a tasty side dish in 5 minutes.  I added this to some salad greens, chicken, feta, and red peppers for a quick lunch.

Recipe (not that you really need one):

1tsp ghee or butter
1.5 cups zucchini or yellow summer squash sliced into half moons
a pinch of salt
black pepper
a tablespoon of chopped oregano, parsley, or chives if you’ve got it
drizzle of olive oil
lemon

Heat a 10″ cast iron or non-stick pan, add ghee, and wait until it’s almost smoking.  I like the non-stick pan because it’s lighter and easier to flip, but either is fine.  Add squash and sprinkle with salt – make sure you have plenty of room so your pan isn’t crowded, otherwise you’ll wind up with soggy vegetables. It smells like french toast, right? Keep flipping or stirring the squash being careful not to ruin the crust until all sides are deep brown. Pull off heat, plate, and add black pepper, herbs, a squeeze of lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s not mind blowing, but it’s tasty!

Just blanch it

I’ve never been much of a blancher. Boil a big pot of salty water, throw the veggies in, and THEN shock them in a pot of ice water? And THEN season, saute, dress them after that?? I’m tired just thinking about it. And while all of extra dish washing was a turn off, it’s really the waste of ice that crippled me. I am an ice hoarder. In my opinion, an entire ice cube tray of ice would be better suited for a week’s worth of cold drinks, not frivolously dumped in a bowl of water. Also, I hate making ice. Why am I the ONLY one who EVER MAKES THE ICE???? But, blanching green beans in salted water makes them perfectly seasoned, crisp tender, and tasty not only in the recipe you make immediately, but for days to come. For this “last of the summer” green beans recipe, I added cherry tomatoes, feta, lots of mint, and a lemon vinaigrette – a respectable way to end the life of 16 home made, slow frozen (our freezer’s busted), hand cracked pieces of ice from my freezer. I highly recommend over-blanching the quantity of beans you’ll need for this recipe as the leftover string beans make a great lunch box companion and general snacking material.

string beans feta mint
Enter a caption

Recipe:
1 lb green beans
1/4 cup salt
10 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup feta
2 tbls chopped mint
zest of one lemon
black pepper

Vinaigrette:
2 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls mustard
1 shallot, sliced
pinch salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Blanch green beans: fill a big pot with water, add salt, bring to a rolling boil, and add green beans. Prepare a bowl of cold water with an ice cube tray of ice. After two minutes of cooking, quickly remove green beans to ice water and submerge until beans are at least lukewarm, about 4 minutes. Remove green beans to a tray with a dishtowel on top to dry out.

Make vinaigrette: add all dressing ingredients to a lidded jar and shake

Add green beans to a large serving dish with cherry tomatoes, feta, chopped mint, lemon juice, and drizzle with dressing. Crack lots of black pepper on top and serve. This keeps well in the fridge for a day or two, so make extra!