Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Cookouts at my house don't really need a special occasion. And I don't always have planned side dishes. Usually, either my husband or I initiate the following conversation: "Do you wanna cook out tonight?" To which the answer is always, "Sure." and then I lay out whatever we have in the freezer; chicken, steaks, burgers, brats, chops...like I said, whatever. Next I look around for what we've got to serve with the main dish. Usually it's a starch like rice or potatoes or bread, AND always a vegetable. So on Sunday, when my husband fired up the grill for burgers, I began my usual task of locating the side dishes. The starch was easy, we had leftover steak fries that our friends made at our cookout the night before. They had brought over their deep fryer, cut up some potatoes and turned out some very yummy fries. I heated them up in my oven on a cookie sheet and they stayed nice and crispy. Now for the veggie. I opened up the fridge. No fresh veggies in there. I opened up the freezer. No frozen veggies in there. I don't keep canned veggies unless I need them for a recipe, so I didn't even bother checking the pantry. Could it be? I was out of vegetables?! This doesn't happen to me very often. I'm a creature of habit. We always have a vegetable with our dinner. I was at a loss! I stood perfectly still as my eyes raced around my kitchen in desperation (OK, so I'm being a bit dramatic here) and then I spied a couple of yellow crookneck squash, curled up together in the basket of produce that my grandma gave to me on my last trip home. Okay...so squash. I love squash. So versatile. So reminiscent of the season. I love it baked (especially the acorn), sauteed (summer squash), and in soup (butternut). And now I needed to use this unfamiliar yellow crookneck squash in a side dish. I immediately summoned my laptop and started searching. Initially, I found a number of delicious-sounding casserole recipes in which to use this type of squash. The next time I have some, I'll plan ahead and try a casserole. But what I really needed this time was something speedy. I mean, the burgers were just about to go onto the grill, for heaven sake. I ended up winging it with the idea of a "squashed" squash recipe that I'd seen earlier as I scanned recipe pages. It was quick and easy and required few ingredients.
So here are my squash. I really had no idea where to begin, so I studied them for a second before choosing which kitchen tool to pick up first.
The skin on these squash is thicker than zucchini, but thinner than the skin on winter squash. It occurred to me to take my veggie peeler and get that skin off. Then, I cut the squash in half.
I removed the seeds and cut the squash into cubes.
I sauteed a little garlic in olive oil and then tossed in the cubed squash. Give the squash a little stir in the oil to coat and then pour in 1/4- 1/3 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Now, drain it.
In the end, I tossed in about a tablespoon of butter, plenty of salt and pepper to taste, and the tiny bit of Parmesan cheese that I found in my fridge, about 2 tablespoons (that's all I had). I stirred it up and squashed the squash a little with a fork. And surprise! It was good. Really good. I would have liked to have more Parmesan. Maybe next time...but really, I was pleased with the result. Totally a satisfying side dish.
2 Yellow Crookneck Squash
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese
Peel, seed, and cut 2 yellow squash into small chunks. Heat oil in a skillet. Add garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Toss in squash. Add water to fill the pan about 1/4-inch deep. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Add in a little butter. Mash by fork until chunky. Season with salt, pepper, and Parmesan to taste.