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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Squash

I like all kinds of squash. I think that the yellow crookneck squash is my favorite. It was really the only kind of squash we ate when I was young. Not many variations on the way that we cooked it. Even now, it's a comforting winter dish.

It's really one of those "no need to measure" recipes that anyone can do. Basically it's just a few ingredients: squash, onion, tomato, and if you like potatoes (yes, I LIKE). I try to purchase the smallest yellow squash available as they are more tender and the interior seeds are not tough at all.

I dice and saute a medium onion (preferably Vidalia since they are so sweet---and I'm from Georgia) in a pot. Probably two or three tablespoons of olive oil (I don't use extra virgin for this part). I saute at a low heat until the onions are tender. Salt and pepper can be added. Wash and slice the squash into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. For one onion, I would probably have 8 small squash. Add the squash to the pot and add 1 16 oz can tomato sauce and one can of diced tomatoes (15 oz). During the summer, I always add chopped summer tomatoes as the taste is so good. During the winter, I just use canned tomatoes. Add two large Russet (baking potatoes) that have been peeled and chopped into one inch pieces. Add enough water to cover the vegetables and tomato sauce, bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender. My mother used to take out some of the potatoes, mash them with a fork, and return them to the pot to have a thicker broth. It's a great dish to have on a cold winter evening. I sometimes put it in a soup bowl and eat it as a soup. You can also serve with a slotted spoon as a vegetable side dish.

Another way that I enjoy squash is the way my former mother in law used to cook it. They had a huge garden with many varieties of fresh vegetables. She would use the larger squash to make fried squash. I think that she would use a combination of vegetable oil and bacon grease in her cast iron skillet. The squash would be sliced into rings, dipped in cornmeal, and placed in the oil to fry. I think the heat was low as she would cover the squash to get it cooked through then, raise the heat, for the final crisping and browning of the squash.

On their land, they also grew zucchini. I will admit that I ate more than my fair share of zucchini bread. I liked it, but have not made any in years. I guess I ate more than my share during that time. When using zucchini, I like the small young ones. They can also be sliced into rings, coated with flour, and sauteed in a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil. After frying, they are delicious sprinkled with a balsamic and oil vinaigrette, then sprinkled with sea salt. It's a different twist on fried zucchini.

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Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar
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