Time for Summer Squash

Malleable squash takes on the flavors it is paired with.


Photo by Lori Eanes

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Summer squash might be likened to a houseguest of long duration. The very name suggests that it’s a vegetable of the summer, but around here, its season ranges from April to October, and over the long haul of the warm season, one’s reaction to the summer squash might range from excitement to boredom to a feeling of vanquishment. As beautiful as it is, there’s just so much of it.

That said, it is the perfect summer vegetable. As farmer Karen Lucero says, “They’re quick and simple—you don’t have to wash every leaf like kale or chard. No trimming, just barely the tip and the end.” A simple roasting with olive oil and salt will do in a pinch, though, it’s perfectly malleable to a cook’s whim.

Lucero truly is a family farmer, with 50 acres in Lodi. She presents a familiar face, along with husband Ben and son Curtis, at local farmers’ markets. When she isn’t standing by her bright sun-soaked summer squash and strawberries at the market, she’s tending to seedlings at home, where squash is planted in succession to guarantee her livelihood over a long season.

A loyal Lucero farm customer is Oakland restaurant Homestead, where co-owner and chef Liz Sassen likes to eat summer squash raw in salads. She also puts it in a summer succotash of fresh beans and corn, grating the squash and cooking it down to concentrate the flavor. Summer squash easily takes on the flavors of what it has been paired with.

It’s a cinch to choose squash: Select firm-textured, unblemished squash. Store on a cool counter, as it can absorb odors and off flavors in the fridge, and use quickly.

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