Friday, August 12, 2011

Eating Omily: Squashing Summer

June flew by, July was a hot mess of the unexpected (which is not to say that it wasn't pleasant), with August I'm taking no prisoners: squeezing every drop of summer the season has to offer. To that end, it's time to talk squash.
Squash may not have the glamour of an heirloom tomato, or a beautiful bell pepper, or even the out and out sizzle of a chili, but lets face it: there's a lot of it. If you're a member of a CSA, you've been seeing a lot of squash for weeks now: crooknecks, pattypans, zucchini of course, and lots of others besides. The thing is...well, I'm not truly objective. Summer squash isn't my favourite; they all taste the same: a bit...predictable. That's not to say that squash can't be worthwhile all on its own, chopped fine and sauteed with onions, carefully seasoned with salt and pepper, but when it keeps right on rolling in, you need some additional ways of dealing with it.

The other night my husband and I combined squash with a few of it's more shall we say, chatty, friends: peppers, and carrots in a dish that anybody who wants to cook dinner more often than not but gets crunched in the time, money, or idea departments needs to have in his or her arsenal: a frittata.

The trickiest thing about a frittata is having a pan that's capable of moving from stove top to oven. If the only issue is the handle, I've heard that double-wrapping it in aluminum foil will provide sufficient insulation, but you may want to do some independent research on that before testing it. Stainless steel is your best bet, although cast iron is awesome too, if you have it. We use an eight-inch saute pan for the two of us, and I fill it with chopped veggies, salt liberally, and let them sweat to a tender sweetness. In the meantime, beat enough eggs to fill the pan up a bit more than halfway in a bowl with milk or cream (I imagine milk substitutes would work too here, if you're inclined that way). For our eight-inch skillet, I use five eggs and a liberal splash of milk. When the veggies are thoroughly cooked, I add a bit more oil, to be sure the pan is well-lubed for the eggs, and then pour the eggs in. You can stir a bit right away, to ensure the filling is thoroughly mixed in, but it's fine if you don't, too. Let the frittata set about half-way on the stove, and then move the pan to a pre-heated 400 degree oven. It takes, oh, maybe twenty minutes in the oven. When it's puffed all the way to the center, and starting to get a little golden (or a lot golden if you like it that way) pull it out. Don't forget that your pan was in the oven and the handle will be HOT for some time afterward!

Slice it up as you would a pizza and prepare to be surprised. Part omelette, part quiche, part something else...summer sublimated into a light, delicious meal.

It doesn't have to be Summer, though! Frittatas do great all year 'round: leafy greens and goat cheese perhaps in Spring, the squash that will persist into the Fall with carmelized onions and some of Summer's tomatoes dried and chopped, winter squash or potatoes with garlic and dried herbs in the Winter...any of the cooler seasons will likely avail you of dark leafy greens, which are fabulous. Meat and cheese are good fillings, too. Just toss in what you've got around!

And, you can also grate squash into chocolate chip cookies. Not kidding. It disappears. Hows that for mind-squashing? The recipe I use calls for two cups of flour to one cup of squash. I won't give you that recipe though, because I feel it yields a somewhat disappointing cookie. Sure you'd never guess there's squash in it, but the texture is dry and cakey, instead of moist and chewy. I'm thinking we need to start with a good, chewy cookie recipe, replace some of the flour with grated squash, and add more flour back to the dough if it seems too wet. Omily-philes, experiment and get back to me!


1 comment:

  1. You are too clever my dear... I am going to try this.