Fresh Friday - In Season: Summer Squash (which sometimes unfortunately looks like a cucumber...)

Ah, summer squash.  This happens to be one of my favorite vegetables, I love crockneck squash (yellow) and zucchini (green).  They are so versatile (as you will see below!)  Unfortunately, zucchini sometimes looks like a cucumber.  

When I was 18, my first year in college, I started working at a rest home, in their kitchen to get hours towards my degree in dietetics.  After only a few months, they asked if I wanted to train to be one of two head cooks in the kitchen.  I said yes, as I would obviously prefer to cook than do dishes!  Many accidents and lessons were learned from that kitchen.  I was definitely too inexperienced to cook for 200+ people on a daily basis!  

We had a cucumber salad on the menu one day, (lets keep in mind I had to be to the kitchen by 5:30am for breakfast and lunch prep), after cleaning up breakfast I grabbed armfuls of cucumbers to start peeling and chopping.  I peeled them ALL.  Then I started chopping.  After about halfway through the pile, I realized that they were not in fact cucumbers, but zucchinis, for tomorrow's dinner.  Ooops.  I really got practice on my knife skills that day (doing double the work!!).  So...let's learn more about this yummy vegetable!

My crookneck and zucchini for dinner

Patty Pan Squash picture from here

Description:  There are three main kinds of summer squash available: Zucchini, yellow, and patty pan.  They range in color from white, greens, yellows, to almost black.  In shape they range from round with scalloped edge to crookneck to oblong.

Selection:  Choose young tender squash, small to medium in size, with shiny, taut skin.  Avoid any soft spots or scarring.

Storage and handling: Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to a week.  When ready to use, wash and trim the ends.  No need to peel if young and tender.  (You get a lot of extra nutrients by including the skin!)

Preparation: Squash are excellent when sauteed in a small amount of olive oil with garlic.  They are a great side dish, or can be thrown in with pasta, quinoa, or other grains.  Steam peeled chunks in a basked, covered, for about 8-10 min.  You can also boil them, for about 8 min.  Squash are also good thrown on a skewer and grilled for about 6-8 minutes.  Any type or marinade can be added.  Great addition to Shish Ka Bobs.

Serving Suggestions:  Peeled squash can be thrown in salads or added to vegetable trays, also, try adding to your pizza. They are somewhat bland on their own, herbs or tomatoes work well with them.  (try basil!) Squash can be stuffed (recipe to come in future blog!).  Squash can be shredded for use in baked goods, muffins, breads, cakes, or cookies (hello zucchini bread!  Also, I will have to share my mom's recipe for zucchini bread in a future blog post, YUM!).

Nutritional Values: Low in calories - one cup sliced has about 18-20 calories!  Squash has vitamin C (about 1/3 of what you need each day), and also useful amounts of potassium, vitamin A, manganese, folate and some B6.  Squash has a high water content.

Did you know?
  • The name Zucchini is derived from the Italian Zucchina, which means small pumpkin.
  • In South Africa, the zucchini is often harvested when only the size of your finger and is referred to as "baby marrows".
  • Pattypan squash goes by many names - sunburst squash, cibleme in French, scallopini or button squash.
Do you like summer squash?  How do you include it in your meals?  Share in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you got your daily dose of nutrition!  If you enjoy the blog, please become a "follower" by joining the site in the box to the right.  Also, follow me on twitter @jennasteprd, on pinterest, and like Daily Dose on Facebook!  Have a great day! ~jenna


  1. I grew up with zucchini and crookneck every summer. My dad makes it yummy. Some of my favorites are cooking summer squash with little bits of bacon, and a fry pan full of summer squash covered in eggs (kind of like an omelette, but a lot less work). I'm looking forward to some this summer.

    1. That sounds amazing, I love how much flavor a little bacon gives vegetables, and also the idea of a "mock omelette"! I will have to try covering them in eggs, thanks for sharing!