Spotlight: Summer Squash

We are excited to kick off the fall season with Rhode Island's best summer squash, with its tender skin and a creamy texture. Aside from the time of year it is grown, a summer squash is unique from a winter squash because of its soft rind and seeds, making the entire vegetable edible. This is because summer squash is harvested young before the rind becomes tough, and, contrary to popular belief, the smaller ones can be the tastiest. The summer squash family includes zucchini (courgette), yellow squash (crookneck and straightneck), scallopini squash, pattypan squash, and globe squash. Despite the stark differences in size and shape, most summer squash varieties can be used inter-changeably in recipes.

Health Benefits
"While not often considered as a premiere food source of antioxidants, summer squash can provide you with unique amounts of antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. While summer squash contains very little overall fat (only 1/2 gram per cup), the fat in summer squash (mostly stored in its edible seeds) is unique in composition and includes omega-3s..." among other beneficial fats. [source]

"Summer squash is an excellent source of antioxidant-promoting vitamin C; enzyme-catalyzing manganese and molybdenum; and nerve-healthy vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of heart-healthy potassium, folate, and vitamin B2. In addition, summer squash is a good source of digestion-promoting dietary fiber; bone-supportive magnesium, vitamin K and copper; immune-supportive vitamin A; energy-producing phosphorus and niacin; anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids; and muscle-building protein." While 85-90% of the calories in yellow squash come from carbohydrates, the composition of said carbohydrates are unique and have been shown to play a role in diabetes prevention and healthier insulin control. [source]

Summer squash, unlike winter squash, bruises easily and should be handled carefully. Because it is more tender than winter squash, summer squash cannot be stored long. Store in a loose plastic bag in the fridge for up to two weeks. Alternatively, blanch (optional) and free summer squash in large chunks for up to four months. While this will soften the skin too much to hold up to roasting with other vegetables, defrosted summer squash works perfectly for casseroles, breads, or baked goods.

Summer squash can be consumed with the rind and seeds. Since the rind is the source of most of its anti-oxidants, summer squash should not be peeled (especially since our yellow squash is organic woo hoo!). To begin, gently rinse under cold water. Cut off and discard both ends and then cut the rest of the squash according to your recipe.

Serving Tips
The mild flavor of summer squash allows it to blend in with almost any dish. Add grated summer squash on top of salads, in sandwiches, or mix in a pasta sauce. To coax out and enhance the flavor, season with herbs or spices. Dill, pepper, basil, marjoram, chives, and mint go especially well with summer squash, though you cannot go wrong choosing how to prepare it.

Cooking Methods
There is a simple theme: summer squash can be used in anything. We tried to narrow this list down, but each of these recipes had our mouths watering.


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