Summer Fest: Summer Squash, Any Way You Slice It

Grate it, dice it, or cut it in half and stuff it; summer squash is a versatile veggie, any way you slice it.

entwine, May 2011

Photo by: Yunhee Kim ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Yunhee Kim, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

The summer squash is like a Little Black Dress: it’s one of the more versatile items in your fridge (or closet). It comes in many different varieties like zucchini (cylindrical and green), crookneck (usually yellow and bent) or pattypan (white-ish and flat). So what is it that makes this glorious summer vegetable so multipurpose? In the end, it comes down to how you slice it. Grate it, and it becomes hash; thinly slice it, and it becomes carpaccio; halve it, and it becomes a base for stuffing. It is the quintessential chameleon vegetable, and as long as you know all the ways you can cut it, the possibilities are truly endless.

Grated: Grated squash has a fantastic texture and can be used in recipes raw or cooked. A tip: try and squeeze as much water as you can out of the squash after you grate it, otherwise you might end up with some unwanted moisture in your dish. Also, make sure you are using a coarse grater to get the best possible texture from the squash.

Thinly Sliced: Thinly sliced summer squash has an elegant, delicate look and can be used in loads of different ways. You can mix thin ribbons of summer squash with tomato sauce or even top a salad with squash ribbons as a garnish. In the Disney-Pixar movie, Ratatouille, the main character, Remy, makes a sophisticated version of the film’s titular dish that involves very thinly slicing all of the vegetables (including summer squash) and arranging them to be this beautiful kaleidoscope of color in a pan before baking them. In other words, if you can get your hands on a mandolin slicer, thinly sliced squash may be just the thing to take your dish to the next level.

Diced: Dice up some squash -- your favorite variety or a mixture of what you have on hand to throw some color into an ordinary stew or for adding to any kind of grain, be it a pasta or rice dish, to give it some variety and texture.

Rounds: Because of their size, squash rounds are super snack- and appetizer-friendly. You can do everything from topping them with hummus to baking them with some sort of crispy topping. Squash rounds are also are a great pizza topper; tell the kids to think of them like green or yellow pepperoni!

Halved: Scooping out the flesh of a squash and fill it with grains, breadcrumbs, cheese or more vegetables for an all-in-one meal.

What’s your favorite way to slice summer squash? Shout it out in the comments, or let us know on Twitter; use the hashtag #cookingwith.

More Summer Squash from our Family and Friends:
Cooking With Elise: Orange Summer Squash Bread
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Summer Squash Chips
Ingredients, Inc.: Summer Squash and Kale Sauté
Thursday Night Dinner: Summer Squash Medley

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