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WHAT’S IN SEASON NOW:
If you think summer squash got its name because it’s only available during the summer months, you have much to learn. The term “summer squash” actually refers to the very short storage life these vegetables are known to have when compared to the longevity of winter squash.
HOW TO PAIR WITH LOCAL WINE:
Summer squashes’ sweet, mild flavors bring out the subtle fruit flavors of lighter foothill Chardonnays, which have notes of green apple, peach and apricot. When served slightly chilled, Placer County foothill Chardonnays—which can be found at Mt. Vernon, Rancho Roble, Dono dal Cielo and Fawnridge Wineries—pair well with the versatile veggie. For more details on Placer County wineries, visit placerwine.com.
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
It’s best to look for squash that is a bit tender, yet firm. The best ones have glossy skin without bruises. If you don’t plan to eat immediately, store it in a plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Don’t wash the squash until it’s ready to be eaten; it’s best to use within 2-3 days.
Wash well, trim the ends and don’t worry about removing the peel or the seeds. It is excellent when grilled, steamed, boiled or sautéed, and is also great in a stir-fry. Onions, tomatoes and even okra serve as great companions; certain herbs also go well with summer squash, including marjoram, cumin seeds, parsley, dill and rosemary. For farmers’ market locations that offer the delicious vegetable, visit foothillfarmersmarket.com.
For more information about where to buy local PlacerGROWN products, including wine, visit placergrown.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bigger is not always better when it comes to the flavor of summer squash. Most squash are best if picked when they are two inches or less in diameter and six to eight inches long. When it comes to variety, color and shape, you can’t beat summer squash. You’ll find scallop, zucchini, golden zucchini, summer crookneck and yellow straight neck squash at Placer County farmers’ markets, among others. No matter which squash you select, the entire vegetable is edible (including the flesh, seeds and the skin). Summer squash varieties are different from their fall and winter cousins, as it’s usually harvested before the rind hardens and the fruit matures.
SHAVED SUMMER SQUASH SALAD WITH CUCUMBER AND CHERRY TOMATOES
Recipe by PlacerGROWN Chef Courtney McDonald
- 1 lb.small zucchini, ends removed
- 1/2 lb. small yellow squash, ends removed
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in ice water for 30 minutes
- 1 basket mixed cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 large Armenian cucumber or 4 lemon cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or basil
- Juice of two lemons
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large colorful heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 cup chopped kalamata olives
Over a large mixing bowl, use a vegetable peeler to cut the zucchini and yellow squash into long, thin ribbons. Drain the soaked red onion and carefully toss with the squash along with the cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber and chopped mint or basil. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss carefully to coat all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
On a large serving platter, arrange the sliced heirloom tomato in a single layer to create a base for the salad. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the squash salad on top of the tomato slices, garnish with the goat cheese, pine nuts and chopped olives, if using. Serve immediately. Serves 6.