So first I’m gone for three weeks and now, all of a sudden, you can’t get rid of me. I’m like that person that you dated but just could never quite figure out in college. (Don’t dump me: I’m better than this, really!) But, to continue the catch-up work that I started earlier with that cabbage post, I’m back to update you on last week’s vegetable spotlight challenge. If all goes according to plan, you should have this week’s update by Wednesday at the latest– but, then again, I do work on a farm, and we are in the middle of summer harvest, so don’t hold me to that.
Anyway, last week, we focused on summer squash, and I will confess, I have occasionally been known to suffer from S.S.F.S.– have you heard of it? Summer Squash Fatigue Syndrome. I actually started this bout last August and haven’t been able to kick it since. The disease is characterized by a generally malaise in the kitchen, a loss of interest in old hobbies (like stir-frying), and an irrationally fear of zucchini bread, and it generally strikes anywhere from mid-July to September. Some experts claim that it is especially prevalent among home gardeners in the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Often, doctors prescribe abstinence from summer squash as a cure, but I’ve been undergoing a more radical experimental treatment, full immersion therapy. I’m happy to say to you today that it has been working– and with great success. Suddenly that crown-shaped flying saucer squash is in everything that I cook. So, today, I come bearing a message: embrace the squash; don’t fear it.
As part of the therapy last week, we tried to get a little creative. Kayle made a soup that would put any S.S.F.S. sufferer in recovery. Hell, I even treated myself to seconds. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT skip the salsa verde.
Crookneck Squash soup with salsa verde (from Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison)
1 pound summer squash
2 teasposoons each butter and olive oil (I doubled the amount of olive oil and omitted the butter and it turned out fine)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped herbs, inclduing orgenao or marjoram, parsley, sage, and thyme
sea salt and pepper
4 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup dried pasta (I used fusilli; the recipe suggests shells or farfalle)
Slice the squash into quarters and then again crosswise into 1/2 inch thick segments.
Warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, squash, and herbes and cook for 5 minutes. Seqson with 3/4 tablespoon salt and add the water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the squash is tender, abotu 15 minutes. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Boil the pasta and add to the finished soup with a spoonful of salsa verde in each bowl.
Genius that she is, Kayla opted for the Smitten Kitchen salsa verde recipe over Madison’s. The latter didn’t have tomatillos, you see, and we definitely did.
10 tomatillos, quartered
2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 bunch of scallions, cut into big segments (I only used the green ends)
salt to taste
Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor
I was less creative, I have to admit, being that I’m still in recovery and all. I did, however, do the most sensible thing that I could think of at the time: I roasted the squash and tossed it in pesto. This is a fool proof-method for making just about anything delicious, but I think that it works especially well with summer squash. The reason is that when roasted correctly, the squash maintains a succulent crunch and seeps up all the juicy flavors of the olive oil, but it’s still relatively low in calories– all of which makes it a perfect vehicle for the smooth, flavor(and calorie)-packed pesto.
So, I cut the squash into coins and tossed in olive, salt, and pepper. I spread it on a baking sheet and cooked it at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the squash began to brown on edges. I tossed it with fresh sweet corn kernels, and chopped cherry tomatoes.
If I don’t say so myself, it’s kind of a crowd-pleaser, like, the kind of vegetable dish that even your kids might eat. (Then again, I know that as a kid I would eat anything if my mother put pesto on it.)
We ate this on top of socca bread– which is a delightful Greek food that I’ll probably write more about at another time. It’s made by combining equal parts chickpea flour and water, a little olive oil, rosemary, and salt– which you can cook either as small crepes or as a larger pancake as I did here. If you’re interested in trying it out, there’s a good recipe here, though I recommend using rosemary instead of cumin, depending on the recipe that you’re preparing the socca to accompany.
Aaron also made zucchini bread, but I couldn’t find the recipe now that it’s time to post this. If you’re looking for a good version of the classic that uses more zucchini than it does flour, leave a comment below, and I’ll not only send you the recipe, but I’ll personally save you one of those over-sized zucchinis that are just absolutely perfect for the lazy baker to deal with.