Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Squash: A Thing of Beauty!

Right now in almost every region of the country, green, yellow, gold, speckled and zebra striped summer squash is piling up in produce stands and markets. Although summer squash is not as densely nutritious as orange winter squash or many dark leafy greens, it provides healthful amounts of beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber and even a little protein.

The sweet mild flavor of summer squash pairs well with other seasonal vegetables and herbs. For the best quality, select squash which is smooth, unblemished and brightly colored. Large overly mature squash can be tough and flavorless; it is best delegated to the compost bin. Fresh squash keeps for several days if handled gently and stored in a loosely closed plastic bag in the fridge.

The squash plant, genus Curcubita, has been cultivated for roughly 10,000 years. It is native to Mexico and Central America, but our name for it is a legacy of the Naragansett people of New England who called it "Askutasquash" which means "a green thing eaten raw". Perhaps the Naragansett were also challenged by the summer glut of this prolific fruit of the earth. But raw or cooked, green, gold or speckled, summer squash is a delicious thing of beauty!

Summer squash & tomato salad recipe to follow.