By Sherrie Norris
Squash is a favorite of many this time of year, as gardens are now overflowing with the versatile member of the gourd family.
Recognized by their long, trailing vines, large leaves and colorful blossoms, the squash is native to the Western Hemisphere and has been an important source of food and medicine to native Americans for thousands of years.
Categorized either as summer or winter squash, it is commercially grown in most states, with Florida taking the lead in production.
The summer variety has edible skin, small soft seeds and a mild, delicate flavor. It has a high water content and cooks quickly. The most common include the patty pan, yellow crookneck and straight neck.
Small to medium size squash, firm with smooth, glossy unblemished skins, are the best. Why not give it a try in one of the following recipes for your next gathering.
Easy Baked, Low-Carb Squash Rounds
Medium-sized yellow summer squash
Your choice of seasonings: garlic salt, black pepper, parsley, Italian seasonings, etc.
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a lightly-sprayed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Wash and dry the squash, and then cut each one into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange on prepared pan, with little to no space between them. Lightly sprinkle the squash with seasonings. Sprinkle a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each squash round. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the Parmesan melts and turns a light golden brown.
Note: Watch closely around the 15-minute mark and remove if they begin to brown too quickly.
OR, if not quickly enough, you may also broil them for a minute or two at the end of the cooking time to speed up the browning. Serve immediately.
Works great with zucchini, too!
5-6 yellow summer squash or zucchini, about 8 inches long
1/4 cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup finely chopped mint
About ½ tsp. salt
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Fresh-ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425. Spray two baking sheets with non-stick spray.
Wash squash and cut off ends; cut each squash into quarters lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 2 inches long.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mint and salt in a bowl; toss squash with the mixture to coat.
Arrange squash in a single layer on the baking sheets.
Place in oven, turning every 15-20 minutes, until slightly browned for about 35-45 minutes, depending on how done you like it.
Put it back in the same bowl and toss with the Feta cheese.
Season with fresh-ground black pepper to taste. Best served immediately.
Cheese Stuffed Patty Pans
4 patty pan squash
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup water
1 cup herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Wash squash and slice off tops, above scalloped edges; discard. Scoop out seeds from center and discard. Place shells in large skillet. Pour ¼-inch water into skillet; cover. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer five minutes. Transfer squash, cut-side up, to greased baking dish with slotted spoon; set aside.
Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat until melted and bubbly. Add celery and onion, cook and stir until tender. Add water and stuffing mix. Stir to absorb water. Stir in cheese. Spoon mixture into squash shells.
Bake 20-30 minutes until squash is fork-tender and stuffing is lightly browned. Serve immediately.
Boil 8 cups thinly sliced squash, covered with water; drain.
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups green pepper, chopped
2 cups pimento or red pepper, chopped
Salt to taste.
Let set for 1 hour.
2 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. celery seed
2 Tbsp. mustard seed
Bring to boil, pack in jars and seal in hot water bath. Makes about 6 pints.