Summer Squash

Rich with beta carotene, winter squash are far more nourishing than summer varieties. It all evens out though, because winter squash compensate for a shortage of fresh produce, while zucchini, yellow summer squash, and crooknecks appear when there are plenty of vitamins available from other vegetables.

WHEN TO BUY
Summer through early autumn

NUTRITION FACTS
Amount in 1 Serving: 1/2 cup
Calories: 18
Fiber: 1.7 grams
Fat: .1 grams
Protein: 1 gram

HOW TO CHOOSE
The squash is good if:

  • It's no longer than 8 inches and no more than 2 inches in diameter.
  • It's firm and rigid.
  • The surface is smooth and dry, with vibrant color.

HOW TO STORE

  • Place in a perforated plastic bag.
  • Refrigerate for up to five days.
  • When they get soft and slimy, it's time to toss them.

HOW TO PREPARE
To use:

  1. Scrub the outside gently with a vegetable brush.
  2. Cut off both ends.
  3. Slice or chop according to your recipe.

To blanch: (for stir fries)

  1. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Line a colander with paper towels.
  3. Plunge the sliced or chopped squash into the boiling water. The moment the skin turns a brighter shade -- 30 seconds to 1 minute -- remove it with tongs or a slotted spoon and transfer it to the ice water for 15 seconds to stop the cooking, then transfer to the colander to drain.

To steam:

  1. Put a rack or a steamer basket on the bottom of a large saucepan.
  2. Add water until it almost touches the rack. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add the sliced or chopped squash, cover the pot and steam until tender but still crisp, about 2 to 6 minutes.

To steam in the microwave:

  1. Place the prepared squash in a microwaveable bowl.
  2. Add 1/4 inch of water. Cover the bowl with a plate or damp paper towels.
  3. Microwave on full power for 1 to 4 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Let rest 3 minutes before lifting the plate or paper towel and testing for doneness. If not done, return to the oven at full power for 1 minute more.
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