BRATTLEBORO—August is a magnificent month for many reasons, not the least of which is that the zucchini crop seems still controllable.
An early-morning search in the garden, gingerly parting those large prickly leaves, produces delicate green fingers of squash, a smattering of glorious buttery blossoms with not a late-season monster in sight.
Zucchini grow at an alarming rate. Those lovely blossoms can turn into 8-inch fruit in just a few days. If you are slow to pick them, you end up with a garden full of torpedoes. A web search for “largest zucchini ever grown” identifies one that weighs in at 65 pounds. That’s a lot of zucchini bread.
Many of our mothers served up all varieties of summer squash in bland, overcooked, mushy mounds whose tepid, watery residue would run all over the plate into the mashed potatoes. Generations of squash haters were thus created.
I propose to lure them back.
Harvested while still young and tender, zucchini and its cousins — the pattypan and yellow summer squash — have more than enough culinary potential and tender sweet flavor to reign supreme in the late-summer kitchen.
Summer squash is delicious when combined with fresh herbs, which are themselves just now coming into their own, or with the addition of a few early tomatoes, a smattering of scallions, and some basics like pasta, eggs, and cheese.
Summer begs simplicity. No one wants to spend hours in the kitchen when the sun is shining and the outdoors is calling, so summer foods should focus on the ingredient, not some fancy combination of flavors.
Dinner should be easy to make; at the same time, it should showcase the beauty of the produce we or our neighbor farmers have worked so hard to grow.
So here are five simple recipes that will make even the most skeptical among you a believer. These recipes are made to feed two people (adjust accordingly for more), and they use uncomplicated ingredients that can all be put together from start to finish in less than 45 minutes.
The other night, the refrigerator yielded some squash — a great base for a simple and delicious pasta dish. There was a bowl of cherry tomatoes on the counter and scallions in the garden, as well as basil and mint.
Squash does have a high water content, so they need to be sliced thinly and cooked down to evaporate some of the liquid they throw off.
Put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
Dice 3 scallions or 1 small onion.
Wash 2 small yellow summer squash and 2 small zucchini. Halve lengthwise, then slice into thin half moons.
Halve ½ cup of cherry tomatoes.
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