Roasted Zucchini and Squash

I haven’t made scientific calculations about how often zucchini and yellow squash are included in CSA boxes, but if you live in the southern US, probably in about 70–80%. This can be challenging even for zucchini/squash lovers. Tonight I made roasted zucchini and squash, with a little tomato and bell pepper from my CSA box. I had leftover French bread, which was perfect for a homemade crouton finish.

Roasted Zucchini and Squash

Ingredients

vegetables
  • 4-6 zucchini and squash, sliced in medallions, 1/4 inch thickroasted zucchini and squash
  • 1 onion, sliced in thin rings
  • 1/4 c. bell pepper, sliced in thin slivers
  • 1/4 c. tomato, chopped
seasoning
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs and spices (oregano and/or thyme with chili powder works well)
topping
  • 1-2 c. cubed bread
  • 1/4 c. Asiago cheese, grated

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Toss the vegetables in a Pyrex baking dish. Slice zucchini and squash in medallions.
  3. Blend the seasonings. I use my Cuisinart Smartstick chopper/grinder. Note: I don’t use salt in most of my recipes. If you want to use salt, the seasoning is a good place to add about 1 tsp.
  4. Drizzle about half of the seasoning on the vegetables and toss.
  5. Place in oven, uncovered, and bake 15 minutes.
  6. Place the cubed bread in a bowl.
  7. Drizzle the 2nd half of the seasonings on the bread and toss.
  8. Add the grated cheese to the bread cubes and toss.
  9. Spread on top of baked vegetables.
  10. Return vegetables to the oven and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, the croutons are golden brown and crisp.
  11. Enjoy!

roasted zucchini and squash

Variations

  • Use only zucchini or only squash.
  • Use a different pepper: ancho, jalapeño, or banana.
  • Use more tomato, or none at all.
  • Instead of topping with homemade croutons, sprinkle with just cheese.
  • For a vegan dish, finish the vegetables with nutritional yeast instead of croutons or cheese.
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2016

Zucchini Straws

Our CSA boxes from Luckett Farms include zucchini for more than half the year. The new-things-to-do-with-zucchini struggle is real, but I haven’t lost a zucchini yet. Zucchini straws make a great crispy side or snack. Quick and simple. Works with yellow squash too!


Zucchini Straws

Ingredientszucchini straws

  • 3-4 zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oregano (OK to sub other herbs)
  • 1 tbsp flour or fine corn meal (optional)

Process

  • Preheat airfryer to 330º (if using oven, preheat to 400º).
  • Grind the garlic with the olive oil, oregano, and salt.
  • Toss the spiralized zucchini in the oil mixture, coating well.
  • If using, sprinkle with flour/meal and toss more.
  • Cook.
    • To airfry
      • Place about a third of the zucchini in the airfryer at a time (don’t overfill)
      • Cook in three minute intervals for 9-12 minutes, tossing every three minutes.
    • To bake
      • Spread zucchini “thinly” on a baking sheet.
      • Bake for 20 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes.
      • If necessary, bake another 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy!
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Smothered Squash and Zucchini Spaghettis

What to do with all the summer squash and zucchini?

So many things!


Before our Luckett Farms CSA box arrived this week, Kacie, the farmer’s wife, gave a nod to the struggles of members using up the abundance of summer squash and zucchini (the struggle is real!). She wrote about her felicitous purchase of the “veggetti” a couple of years ago.

I decided to invest and looked up the device, only to realize: I already have one! Or something like it. A gift from our nephew and his wife, which I mistook for a German grater that, like the German language, I couldn’t figure out. I grabbed the biggest squash and tried the tool. I hadn’t quite thought that through, but it mostly worked wonderfully.

squash4

Chop the tails, too-fat tops, and other residuals and saute with the rest.

Now that understand my German spiralizer, I have ideas!

  • The usual spiralized squash/zucchini as a substitute for spaghetti noodles.
  • Spiralized squash/zucchini sauteed with sweet Italian sausage, onions, garlic, and peppers.
  • Spiralized squash/zucchini tossed in seasoned olive oil and airfried for a crispy side.

But for tonight I applied my Southern-style Smothered Squash process to the … squashghetti? … spaccini?

I’m proud to note that I used five things from my CSA box: squash, zucchini, onion, bell pepper, and basil leaves.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 squash and zucchini, spiralized. NOTE: You will have some pieces that don’t spiralize for different reasons: the ends, the middle ribbons, too fat. Chop those and saute with the rest. If you don’t have a spiralizer, don’t fret. Slice and/or chop the squash and zucchini.
  • 1 med onion
  • 1 med bell pepper (use hot pepper if you prefer)
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes (or any tomato in similar amount), diced
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh basil (OK to sub other fresh or dried herbs)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey (I use cowgirl “honey,” a byproduct of my cowboy pepper relish, because I like sweet heat.)
  • ¼ c wine

Process

  • Saute onion and pepper 2-3 minutes.
  • Add squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and basil.
  • Continue to cook on high/med high another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add basil, honey, and wine.
  • Stir and cook on high for 1-2 minutes.
  • Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes).
  • EAT!
squash and zucchini

Drizzle with honey.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Feta Chicken with Squash and Zucchini

During the summer, CSA boxes are filled with squash and zucchini.

I don’t mind! Squash and zucchini are versatile and tasty.

This one-pot main dish might help you find something new to do with your next batch.

This is a process, not a written-in-stone recipe. Don’t run to the grocery to buy what you don’t have for this! Use a different cheese, a different herb. Heck! Use a thick pork chop if you don’t have chicken breasts!


Feta Chicken with Squash and Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (patted dry, lightly seasoned, lightly pounded, and slit open to create a cavity)
  • 1 c. feta cheese
  • 2-4 tbsp fresh chopped oregano and/or thyme
  • 1 tbsp grated onion OR 3 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped sweet pepper (I used pimiento)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 zucchini and/or squash, sliced
  • ½ c. white wine
  • 1 tbsp honey

Process

  • Prepare the chicken breasts: pat dry, season (I used herbs, no salt), pound, and split.
  • Blend the cheese with the herbs, onion, and pepper.
  • Stuff the cheese mixture in the cavity of the chicken.
  • Heat oil in pan.
  • Brown stuffed chicken on both sides (2-3 minutes each side)
  • Add squash and zucchini, saute between the chicken for about 3 minutes.
  • Add wine and stir to dissolve brown bits.
  • Drizzle honey over chicken and vegetables.
  • Cover and lower heat.
  • Simmer chicken and vegetables for about 10 minutes.

Use the juices to make a gravy or as a broth to cook rice.

You can read a little about my CSA journey here: Luckett Farms.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

My CSA Adventure: The First Five Weeks

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

I joined one for the first time this year. My excitement was met with:

  • But you already have a garden!
  • Your mom has a garden!
  • You frequent the farmers’ market!
  • Why!?

CSA Week 4That didn’t stop me. I’m finishing up my fifth week of waxed boxes and so far the only vegetable that escaped me was a cucumber. At week five, I have just two regrets: that slimy cucumber and week 3 (out of town and missed my box).

For general information and history about CSAs, visit Local Harvest.

This post is about my CSA experience, the content of my waxed boxes, and how I used it.

My CSA is Luckett Farms. I found out about them through friends who were already participating in the program. When I knocked on the garden gate, the CSA was in mid-season and not taking any new members. While I waited to join the next season, I read about the program and decided which box size best suited our empty nest.

Luckett Farms offers three share sizes: Senior, Average, and Abundant. I chose Average Share.

  • But you already have a garden!
  • Your mom has a garden!
  • You frequent the farmers’ market!
  • Why!?

Disregarding the possibility that I was biting off more than we could chew, I chose Average Share. I’m a little greedy. I wanted at least one of each thing. I had a couple of habits in my favor: I cook almost every day and I can and dehydrate produce at least once a month, sometimes weekly. If push came to shove, I could shove what we couldn’t consume, can, or dehydrate into our upright freezer. (Note: These are important strategies for CSA members).

My first pick-up day finally arrived. My friend, another veggie aficionada, went with me to claim my first box.

“That’s it?” my friend moaned. She rapped on the door of the home (maybe they can explain). No one answered. She peaked into several boxes as I retrieved my notes from the car.

“Yep. That’s it. That’s the right size.” We were both a little disappointed.

When I returned home, I decided to document my CSA venture because I knew the question was coming: “Did we save money by doing this?”

CSA Box 2

Week 2 of the CSA: the box almost doubled in size, and included locally grown rice!

I pulled out my scale and measured. This first box had eight items of fresh produce weighing a total of 6 pounds and 9.11 ounces. Luckett Farms promises at least eight items. They had delivered that, plus honey, a packet of seasonings, and a couple of recipes. I spoke with a friend who had participated in the CSA. She reassured me that the content of the boxes would vary from week to week not only in selection, but in abundance. (Note: The Local Harvest’s tips is an important read for potential CSA members.)

I took heart. I had already concluded that, even though my first “harvest” was less than I had expected, it was worth the $25 dollars. Based on my friend’s experience, I could expect more abundant harvests in future boxes.

I continued to weigh and document my harvests, except week 3 (dang it!), which, according to the newsletter, included mixed greens, scalloped or patty pan squash, and red beans.

What did I find in the boxes I did collect? Here it is in a nutshell box. To my delight, the number of items and total weight increased each week.

CSA-table-week-1-5-A

Except for one badly bruised tomato in week 4, and stings” on a squash, the produce was beautiful and fresh. We consumed (or stored) all but the one cucumber that turned on me.

This is what we did with our super-fresh vegetables.

CSA-table-week-1-5-applicat

We started out with loads of okra. When I have more than I can use, I typically dehydrate it, then grind it to use as a thickener for soups. Because my dehydrator bit the dust on week 1, I discovered grilled okra. This recipe from Southern Living includes a dipping sauce.

We enjoyed zucchini and squash (also plentiful) grilled, smothered, stir-fried, and in soups and salads. Some recipes I applied:

Cowboy candy and syrup

Cowboy candy and cowgirl syrup

Week 5 has been the most impressive box so far. The most celebrated members of this box were the corn and eggplant. We boiled and ate the corn straight. So sweet! The huge eggplant was perfect! I read five or six eggplant lasagna recipes, then made my own version of mostly this recipe, adding ground turkey and substituting mozzarella and Asiago cheese for the typical ricotta/egg mixture.

My friends get a giggle when I tell them there are peppers in my box. My thing is peppers. Pepper jellies, pepper sauces, pepper relishes, dehydrated peppers, roasted peppers, and it goes on. So what did I do with those jalapeños in my box when I already had a few in the fridge, and many still growing in the garden? I rounded up all my jalapeños and made my own version of Cowboy Candy or candied jalapeños. I have a jar full of leftover jalapeño syrup, which will be great for grill glazing or for that interesting oomph in a dish.

I still have a little time to cook up my sweet potatoes (although they will keep quite a while) and scalloped squash before I pick up box 6.

Am I pleased so far with my venture? You betcha! As I collect weeks 6 through 14, I’ll continue to document the harvests, and maybe I’ll follow-up with more recipes. If you’re considering joining a CSA,  I hope this information helps. Keep in mind, CSA models vary, so study up before you sign up.

Copyright © 2015 by Pennie Nichols, All Rights Reserved.

Southern-style Smothered Squash

Smothered squash is one of my favorite sides.

Whether you just picked up some squash or zucchini from the market or your CSA box was overflowing with these versatile vegetables, a Southern-style smothered squash (or zucchini) recipe might just do the trick.


Smothered Squash (or Zucchini)

Ingredients

  • 6-8 squash and/or zucchini
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 1-2 peppers (bell or red)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ c wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • butter (optional)
  • Seasonings (salt, pepper)

Instructions

1. Prepare the vegetables

  • Slice the squash/zucchini into ¼-inch slices medallions.
  • Slice the onion into half-round slivers
  • Chop or slice the peppers

2. Saute the squash/zucchini, onions, and peppers in 1 tbsp olive oil until tender (about 5 minutes).

3. Add honey and wine. For a richer flavor, add 1-2 tbsp butter. Turn the heat up and reduce (about 5 minutes).

4. Season to taste. If you like heat, cayenne is great condiment for this dish.

Add-ons and Substitutions

  • Eggplant works nicely instead of or in addition to the squash/zucchini.
  • If you don’t have honey, use brown sugar or agave.
  • Add dried or fresh oregano or basil.
Copyright © 2015 by Pennie Nichols, All Rights Reserved.

Grill to Oven Squash and Zucchini

Squash and zucchini again!?

When they’re in season, CSA boxes tend to overflow with squash and zucchini. This is a tasty way to make sure they don’t go to waste.


Grill to Oven Squash and Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 4-6 squash and/or zucchini
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 1-2 peppers (bell or red, or jalapeño if you’re going for heat)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2-3 fresh tomatoes
  • ½ c sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • ½ grated cheese (optional: when I use cheese, I use Asiago. Parmesan, and Romano would also work well. For a creamier dish, use mozzarella.)
  • olive oil
  • Seasonings (salt, pepper) and fresh or dried herbs
  • 2-3 c marinara or tomato-based sauce (Many recipes, like this one, are available online. In a pinch, buy a jar of sauce.)

Instructions

Preheat grill.Grill to Oven Squash and Zucchini

1. Prep the squash/zucchini, onions, peppers, and tomatoes:

  • Slice the squash/zucchini into ¼-inch slices, lengthwise.
  • Peel and slice onions into ¼- to ½-inch medallions.
  • Wash peppers and tomatoes.

Brush vegetables with olive oil and season (salt, pepper, or mix).

2. Place garlic head in a square of tin foil. Sprinkle with olive oil then wrap the foil securely around it.

3. Clean and lightly rub oil on the grates with oil (I douse a paper towel in oil, and, using a silicone glove or tongs, wipe the grates).

4. Place all of the vegetables on the hot grill and close. After 5 minutes, turn the vegetables. As you roast the peppers and tomatoes, handle them gently. Remember to turn the garlic as well so it roasts on more than one side.

5. As the vegetables roast,

  • chop the sun-dried tomatoes,
  • grate the cheese (if you’re including cheese),
  • preheat the oven to 350o.

6. Remove the vegetables from the grill.Grill to Oven Squash and Zucchini

7. Prepare peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.

  • Remove the charred pepper and tomato skin.
  • Open the garlic and peel (the cloves should “pop” out of their skin).
  • Chop the roasted peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

8. Drizzle a little marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9X13” Pyrex pan.

 

9. Layer:

Grill to Oven Squash and Zucchini

  • squash/zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes
  • chopped peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic
  • sprinkle herbs
  • marinara
  • cheese

Repeat until you’ve used up your vegetables.

10. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

11. If you want to brown the top, turn oven to broil and cook 2 additional minutes or until brown.

Add-ons and Substitutions

  • For a more substantial dish, grill chicken and add the chicken to your layers, sliced or whole.
  • In the mood for pasta, layer the vegetables with tortellini, ravioli, or other noodles.
  • Mushrooms and eggplant can be used with or instead of the squash/zucchini. Brush the mushrooms with oil and grill whole. Slice the eggplant in ½-inch slices, brush with oil, and grill. Remove skin after grilling.
  • Substitute leeks for the onions. Slice them length wise (remember to clean them out), brush with oil, and grill.
  • For zestier dishes, add lemon zest as you layer, then sprinkle with lemon juice before putting in the oven.
Copyright © 2015 by Pennie Nichols, All Rights Reserved.