Did you have one of those vegetables that you absolutely hated as a child, but love now? Well, that’s yellow squash for me.
When I was a kid, we always had squash in our family garden, so when it was time to gather it, I knew Mom was going to make me eat it. I loved the pretty blooms it made, but to eat it…well, it was torture.
Mom cooked it many ways: fried, boiled, and even squash fritters. She made squash casserole with creamy additions, but still no dice for me. If I had to eat it, I would usually take it with a bite of my roll or biscuit, hoping it would help with getting it down. I know I complained about it. It was squishy and stringy and those little seeds…ugh. No way!
Then something happened when I was served squash casserole at a plated dinner I attended. I was hesitant, but when you’re seated at a table with others, I was taught it was rude not to at least try everything on your plate. I was trying not to make a grimacing face as it approached my mouth. And then it happened. I fell in love with squash. It was good. I was enjoying it. I finished all that was on my plate. Truly though, what can go wrong with fresh squash, loads of cheese, and a crushed-cracker crust?
Through the years I have made many a squash casserole, squash fritters, veggie lasagna loaded with squash, and just classic steamed squash. My favorite squash casserole recipe to this day came out of Southern Classics, a 2012 special issue of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine. I don’t even have to flip through the pages to find this recipe anymore. The magazine opens right up to it because I’ve turned to it so many times that the page is weathered with splashes of ingredients from past casseroles—that’s how you know you’ve used a recipe a lot!
When Paula and our magazine staff decided to do a feature article on what to do with the summer bounty of yellow squash and zucchini, it was great to see all the recipes that emerged: Squash and Potato Pancakes with Dill Sour Cream, Ginger and Macadamia Nut Zucchini Bread, Zucchini and Yellow Squash Ribbon Salad (my personal favorite), Cheesy Squash Enchiladas, and Zucchini Sheet Cake. It was especially fun tasting all the delicious recipes. For a girl who initially didn’t like squash, it was a way to make up for those years of turning my nose up to all those wonderful dishes prepared with the summer staple. Sorry, Mom! At least I’m eating my squash now. It wasn’t your recipes. I just didn’t give it a chance.
Squash can be delicate to handle and store, so here are some tips to help you:
1. The skin of zucchini and yellow squash should be smooth, glossy, and vibrant without blemishes or soft spots, which are signs of deterioration. It should be firm, heavy for its size, and ideally, 6 to 8 inches long.
2. Store zucchini and yellow squash in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer. They will stay fresh for up to a week. Delay washing until you’re just about to use them.
Paula and I would love for you to try our squash recipes. You can pick up the May/June 2013 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen and turn to page 47, or click here for a sampling. Let us know what you think!