about bliss

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

daily bliss: squashes

This is the time of year I most enjoy food shopping, preparing, and eating. The grocery store run is reduced to once a week for milk, juice, and pantry staples. Instead, I (and sometimes we) head to the local farmers' market twice a week for vegetable bliss. Lettuces, cucumbers, radishes, peas, beans, cherries, berries, onions, garlic, broccoli, herbs, flowers, bread, cheese, and the ubiquitous, promiscuous squashes fill our baskets.

Ruth Ozeki's sprawling novel All Over Creation weaves a tale of food politics, culture, love, and values-infused living across the United States. In the story, squashes become a symbol of nature's untamed fecundity (oh, how I love that word) as well as the human desire to shape and tame their inherent indiscriminate proliferation. Whenever I see summer squashes—growing beneath the shady canopies of huge plants, overflowing farmers' baskets—I can't help but think of the glory of life, and the will to thrive and prosper with the right mix of sun and rain.

In the spirit of squash abundance, we're exploring a multitude of squash dishes. Quickly, simply grilled squash halves, slicked with olive oil, salt, and pepper, are staples. But, given G's love for this veggie and for foods new and perhaps even a little strange, I'm experimenting. And loving every discovery.

This week, we're enjoying zucchini muffins, studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. I used Deb's recipe from smitten kitchen as a template, combining olive oil and yogurt to reduce the fat. I topped them with a bit of cinnamon sugar, which created a delicate, delicious crust. These are seriously moist and mostly healthful.

Monday night, I diced a crookneck squash and sauteed it with green onion and lemon zest. I added whole wheat pasta, basil, parm, and some toasted panko for a quick meal.

But last night's side dish scoots up to the number one position in the list of squash experiments: Heidi's summer squash gratin from her blog 101 Cookbooks. I made a few changes, namely making an all basil pesto as the sauce, and trying to use a little less fat here and there. The brown butter bread crumbs—made with a hunk of classic Poilane bread nestled in my freezer—were perhaps the tastiest part. The casserole was, to quote G, killer, when eaten warm. And, a plate of cold casserole for lunch today was equally fantastic.

My next venture? A version of Clotilde's tart, from Chocolate and Zucchini.

Mmmm, summer. So delicious, so free, so veggie promiscuous and. . . nutritious.

1 comment:

  1. so fun! i'm always looking for new recipes for summer squash since we are constantly overflowing with in the summer. one of my favorites is yellow squash muffins