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

Here’s the Answer:  Perfect vs. Edible

Too often, we get hung up over vegetables that aren’t perfect-looking.  That’s because we’re used to seeing perfect-looking vegetables in stores, ads, restaurants and so on.  Understandably, we think that’s the only kind of vegetables that are edible.  

But there’s actually a lot of territory between perfect and bad, and most of that territory lies in the “edible” camp.  That’s why it’s important to understand the difference between perfect and edible.  

“Perfect” is the optimal-looking condition you look for when buying vegetables at the store.  If you’re going to pay good money for a vegetable, buy the best for goodness sake.  That’s what the “Buying the Best” section is all about:  When you’re standing in the store, what signs and secrets indicate whether a vegetable is in the kind of condition such that warrants spending money on it.      

“Edible” is a different question.  It’s what you ask when you’re at home, standing in front of the frig, having just discovered that week-old zucchini.  Obviously, it is no longer optimal, but can it still be salvaged for dinner tonight?  

There’s a good chance it’s still edible.  As explained in Storing for Flavor, squash can often last for two weeks.  As long as you’re within or at least close to this time limit, it’s worth testing that squash for usability:  

1.  Check the Outside  Is the squash still in pretty good shape? If it’s moldy or totally rubbery, toss it in the compost  bin.  But if it’s just a little limp or dull-colored or has a couple pitted or browned spots, simply wash it well and slice off any bad spots.   

2.  Check the Inside  Even if a squash looks fine on the outside, it may be hiding a bitter taste inside.  Do the Sliver Taste Test.  If the squash tastes harsh or leaves a funny taste in your mouth, compost it.  But if it tastes ok, go ahead and use it and save yourself some money in a way that doesn’t leave a cheap aftertaste.    

My bottom line is always, “Waste Not, Want Not.”  As long as I’m not endangering my health, I feel best using all that I can.  There are tradeoffs to this approach, of course.  I miss out on a vegetable’s peak nutrition.  I also miss its sweetest-tasting moment.  But I save money, I’m not really deprived, and I figure there is some sort of healthy karma that comes from not being wasteful with food!      

<<Money Savers

Here’s the Question:

Looking in the frig at dinnertime, searching for something green to go with the casserole in the oven, we plead, “Please,”vegetable gods, give me a nice, quick-steaming head of broccoli.”  But all the crisper drawer offers up are a couple week-old zucchini.  

Here’s the Scenario:

Do I have to pitch the squash (and waste the $3.00 I paid for them?)  Or is there a way to use them and not have to buy a head of broccoli (for another $5.00?)”  

What About Freezing Squash?

Chances are good that you’re staring at piles of zucchini–from your own garden or a neighbor’s.  Even at Farmer’s Markets it’s so cheap you have to wonder, “Is there any way to preserve this cheap abundance?”

Because of squash’s high water content, most people write off squash preservation.  Frozen or canned, it turns to mush.  

The Secret  I’ve found a way around this problem, building on the flavor-concentrating principles shared in the “Cooking Basics” section. The secret:  roast the squash first to eliminate most of that pesky water and brown it full of flavor.  Then puree and pour into 1 qt. freezer bags.  You’re set for inexpensive–and very fast–soup and sauce making all winter.

Find out how to roast summer squash.  And also check out the recipe for Roasted Zucchini Soup with White Beans and Fresh Basil.  It’s a snap to make in the middle of winter with the frozen squash puree and dried basil.  

Always Tip for Saving $$

Buying in season always saves money—which happens automatically in the Vegetable a Month Club.  

Helpful Hint:

When using up older squash, it will be better cooked rather than raw.  Cooking helps mask the usable-but-still-less-than-fresh taste of older squash.  If a dish features raw summer squash, be sure to use small to medium squash that are as fresh as possible, even if it does mean an extra trip to the store (although a little advance planning can spare you from that fate!)  

A squash with just a few brown spots can easily be salvaged by simply peeling off the bad parts.

The older a squash, the more important it is to do the Sliver Taste Test to make sure it hasn’t gone bitter or harsh.

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