Don't squash it — just eat it

By: haydee

Even though the name is not very appealing, squash really are tasty, and versatile too since many different vegetables belonging to the squash family. To get better acquainted with this vegetable family, it helps to know they are often divided into two groups: winter squash and summer squash.

Winter squash are harvested in the fall. Most have a hard rind or skin that may be white, tan, yellow, orange, green or some combination of these colors. Typically they have yellow to orange slightly sweet flesh and are a good source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and fiber. Spaghetti squash is an exception, with pale yellow delicately-flavored flesh which separates into spaghetti-like strands after cooking.

Summer squash is harvested locally June through August. With tender edible skin, summer squash ranges in color from white of pattypan to yellow crookneck to green zucchini. Less well-known chayote squash resembles a lobed green pear.

Summer squash have only moderate amounts of vitamins A and C and some fiber. However, they are valued as a versatile, low calorie vegetable. Summer squash can be served raw with dip or in salads, or sautéed, grilled, steamed or stir fried. Varieties are usually interchangeable in most recipes.

Signs of quality in summer squashes are firmness and shiny, smooth skin without blemishes. Smaller size indicates tenderness and soft, edible seeds. Despite their name, summer squashes are generally available year round. They keep for several days stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Colorful Summer Squash and Corn combines a variety of summer produce — red bell pepper and tomatoes in addition to the squash and corn. This tasty recipe is from University of Missouri's Seasonal and Simple cookbook. Other recipes from this cookbook will be demonstrated at an upcoming class with the same name — Seasonal and Simple — from 6 to 7 p.m. August 30 at the Extension office in St. Peters. For more information or to register, call 636-970-3000.

Colorful Summer Squash and Corn
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼-inch
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 medium tomatoes, diced
In large skillet, heat olive oil. Sauté bell pepper over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the squash and corn. Sauté until vegetables are tender and crisp. Add tomatoes and heat for about another minute until tomatoes are hot.

Makes about 6 servings. Nutrition information per serving: 77 calories, 2g protein, 10g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g fat, 43mg vitamin C, 308mg potassium, 9mg sodium.

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