Summer squash is a great addition to the backyard barbeque. Its firm texture makes it ideally suited for direct contact with the grill, but it also is easily prepared on skewers or steamed in foil. Grilling baskets are another easy way to cook a variety of different summer squashes at once. Nutritionally, squash is full of vitamins and minerals, high in fiber and low in fat--a great addition to light summertime fare.
A member of the cucurbit family, summer squashes come in many varieties which can differ in size, shape, color and flavor. Among the traits they share are a generally delicate flavor and soft skin, a wealth of health benefits, and the edibility of the complete vegetable from skin to seeds (some varieties also produce edible flowers). They are considered in season from May to July, but are year-round members of grocery store produce departments throughout the United States.
Summer squash can be directly planted after the threat of frost has passed. Its seeds should be sowed in well-drained soil with a pH balance of 6.0 to 6.5 and positioned to receive full sun. Recommeded fertilizer is a general nitrogen, potash, phosphate of 10-10-10. With little care, they grow quick and large, and gardeners often share their plentiful harvest with friends and neighbors.
Summer squash is a high-fiber, low fat food which is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, C and K, copper, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. It also contains Vitamin B1, B6 and calcium. As part of a balanced diet, it can help in the prevention of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Good for Grilling
Its firm, but tender characteristics make summer squash ideal for grilling. The long, narrow green and yellow zucchini, the crooked- and straight-necked yellow summer squash, and the distinct and sweet pattypan squash can all be quickly and easily prepped for grillling.
One of the simplest ways to grill summer squash is to thickly cut the vegetables lengthwise, brush with olive oil, season and place on the grill. The grill should be prepared and set at medium temperature. Spraying it with cooking oil or rubbing it with olive oil will help prevent the vegetables from sticking. Seasonings such as sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a bit of cayenne pepper complement its mild flavor. They cook quickly, about five minutes per side, and their grill-marked flesh against bright green and yellow skin makes for great dish presentation.
Summer squashes are a nutritious and colorful addition to vegetable skewers. Alternating green and yellow squash with cherry tomatoes, hot cherry peppers, and large button mushrooms make a great addition to most meat, poultry and fish dishes. Using a simple salad dressing marinade allows the flavors of the vegetables and hot pepper to mingle without becoming overpowering. Skewers of meat and vegetable mixes can also be grilled using the same marinade or rub placed on the lamb, beef, chicken, fish cubes or pork.
A variety of different cubed summer squashes, prepared with a marinade, can be placed in a grilling basket or aluminum foil tent and then cooked on the grill. Tossed with a mild prepared salad dressing, such as a vinaigrette, the squashes are a good and colorful compliment to chicken and fish.