Doil Moore could barely keep up. The run on fresh vegetables and fruit at the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market in Columbus Monday afternoon kept vendors hopping. Gorgeous sun-yellow squash, plump red tomatoes, jewel-green peppers, fresh corn, cucumbers, blueberries, peaches, plants and more tempted shoppers eager for first picks when the market opened at 4 p.m. Summer is in full swing, and crops are comin’ in.
Versatile summer squash is a popular market regular. Moore and his partner, James Earnest, harvest about 75 to 100 pounds of it per day in season on the 30 or so acres they farm southeast of Houston. Moore grew up on a farm and, after leaving a career in the furniture industry, felt the pull of the good earth once more. The former Columbus resident and his partner sell their produce at the Prospect Produce Farm booths at farmers’ markets in Columbus, Starkville, West Point and Houston. (Columbus on Mondays and Saturdays; Starkville on Tuesdays and Saturdays; West Point on Thursdays.)
Collaborating with Mother Nature to coax good things from the ground is intense work. But when it all comes together, every grower enjoys a perk: fresh produce in season always on the table.
“Squash? I eat it all the time,” says Moore. “I like it sliced and sauteed in onions — just add a little water and onions and let it simmer there til it gets soft. You can cook it on the grill, too, and it tastes real good.”
Summer squash is great shredded as a raw salad, grilled with garlic or baked with a coating of bread crumbs and Parmesan. Cook it quickly for a side dish, then enjoy it the next day as a cold salad. Cook it a little longer for a soft, casserole-like dish to go with meat, or to serve as a vegetarian side dish. High in Vitamins A and C and fiber, squash also have a high water content, so they don’t need much cooking to be ready to add to everything from pasta to salmon.
Look for smooth, blemish-free squash with bright-colored skins. Smaller, tender squash are generally preferable to oversized, seedy ones. You can store them in a plastic produce bag in your refrigerator’s vegetable bin for usually five days to a week, says cookinglight.com.
Try the baked summer squash or sauteed squash with basil and feta recipes below. Or go to cdispatch.com for a delicious summer squash and bacon quiche recipe. However you like summer’s sunshine-yellow vegetable, tis the season.
SAUTEED BABY SQUASH WITH BASIL AND FETA
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups baby pattypan squash, halved (about 18 ounces)
2 cups sliced leek (about 2)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
(Source: Lorrie Hulston, cookinglight.com)
BAKED SUMMER SQUASH
2 pounds summer squash (zucchini, pattypan squash, yellow crookneck squash)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon flaked salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
SUMMER SQUASH AND BACON QUICHE
Total time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
For the crust:
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices yellow squash
2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices zucchini
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup 2 percent reduced-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 large egg whites
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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