Online Magazine

& Cooking Club

In This Issue

Feature Articles

Making heads & tails of

the squash kingdom

6 Tricks to Take the Bland

out of Summer Squash

Zucchini Overload:

how to turn over-abundance

into advantage

5 Fast Ways to Cook Squash +

5 Simple Ways to Dress It Up

In Every Issue

Why We Love It

Top 10 Questions about Squash

The Green Kitchen

Picky Eater Tips

Money Saving Tricks

News from the Farm


Cooking School

Cooking Classes:

    Greek Potato Salad

    Zucchini Salad Americana

Buying the Best

Storing for Flavor

Prepping Tricks & Tips

Cooking Basics

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes

14 Easy, Creative Dishes Using Summer Squash

Making Heads & Tails of the Squash Kingdom 6 Tricks toTake the Bland out of Summer Squash Zucchini Overload: how to turn over-abundance into advantage Zucchini Saute with 5 Variations Recipe List for Zucchini Buying The Best Storing For Flavor Prepping Tricks & Tips Cooking Basics Why We Love It The Green Kitchen Picky Eater Tips Money Saving Tricks News From The Farm #CookingClassPotatoSalad #Top10Questions In This Issue

© 2009 Culinary Concepts, Inc., Boulder CO

One of the greatest things about summer squash is its versatility.  

It makes a good addition to practically any dish or cuisine.  But in the curious way that our strengths are often the opposite face of our weaknesses, zucchini’s marvelous versatility is also the root of its biggest weakness:  blandness.  

The very reason zucchini is so versatile is that it doesn’t have much flavor on its own.  So of course it tastes good with just about anything!  Granted, a good, freshly picked squash has some sweetness to it, but blandness still dominates the flavor spectrum.    

No doubt, squash’s flavor issues stem from the fact that it’s mostly water.  Being   as much as 95 percent H2O, it’s no surprise that it tastes a lot like water, which is to say, bland.  

Knowing all this clarifies the mission for everyday cooks:  If we want to take advantage of squash’s many strong points, how can we prepare it in a way that is flavorful and enjoyable?  The key lies in knowing how to concentrate and coax.  

In other words, first get rid of the water to concentrate what flavor there is in this watery vegetable.  Then coax out that flavor even more with “flavor boosters.”      

Concentrate to Get the Water Out and Leave the Flavor Behind

1.  Minimize External Cooking Water  To begin with, avoid cooking methods that introduce more water, like boiling and poaching.

2.  Evaporate Internal Water  Instead, use dry-cook methods (like grilling and roasting) and fast-cook methods (like sautéing and stir-frying) that evaporate the water and leave the flavor behind.       

Coax Out More Flavor with “Flavor-Boosters”

3.  Salt and Pepper, Generously  Even concentrated, squash’s flavor can use a little boosting.  Start with salt and pepper.  As always, go slowly when seasoning, but you may well find that squash requires a little more salt and pepper than usual.  You’ll also get better results by seasoning before cooking, so the flavor can better permeate the squash.

4.  Brown Nicely  When cooking summer squash, don’t be afraid of a little browning.  A nicely browned surface adds great flavor.  

5.  Partner Strategically  Finally, balance squash’s milder taste with stronger flavors like chilies, curry, ginger, garlic, lemon, goat cheese and so on.  

6.  Compensate for Flavor Dilution  Sometimes, summer squash must be cooked in a liquid, as in a soup, stew, or saucy dish like Chicken Cacciatore.  Without the flavor-concentrating benefits of dry-cooking and fast-cooking, summer squash can tip an entire dish to the unexciting side.  Recipes generally compensate for this dilution potential by boosting other herbs, spices and condiments, but don’t hesitate to add more (gradually, of course) if a taste test warrants it.      

Helpful Hint:  

How to Add a Squash Boost to Your Meals

Want some interesting ideas for using zucchini and other summer squash?  See Zucchini Overload:  Turning Over Abundance into Advantage

Rich brown is a sign of good flavor, not overcooking.  Above, roasted zucchini slices give a flavor boost to

Roasted Zucchini Soup.  Below, half moons are browned before adding to

Zucchini Sausage Skillet.  

The fast, hot heat of stir frying is a great way to concentrate the flavor of yellow squash.   

6 Tricks to Take the Bland out of Summer Squash

Good Strategic Partners for Summer Squash

A Little Heat:  Salsa,  Szechwan sauce and chili sauce  

Sweet or Salty:  BBQ sauce, humanely-raised, nitrate-free bacon, feta cheese

Sour or Pungent:  Fresh (not bottled) lemon, kalamata olives, Chinese black bean sauce

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