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Summer crookneck squash is a dieter’s dream, providing tons of fiber and vitamin C along with very few calories. Eaten raw or cooked, it’s a cinch to prepare. Crookneck squash is abundant during the summer months from a home garden, a farmer’s cart, or the grocery store. Selecting the best squash, exploring a range of cooking styles from sautéed to baked dishes and even desserts, and understanding how to store this yummy veggie are all the wise cook needs to know in order to get the most out of summer’s generosity.
There’s no need to peel crookneck squash because the peel is thin and delicious; plus, it contains a lot of fiber. Unless the squash comes from the cook’s own garden, the best ones are firm, have unbroken, shiny skin, and are neither enormous nor tiny. Overlarge squash lack the sweet flesh offered by those of more modest size, and little ones haven’t been around long enough to develop any kind of flavor.
As the peel is eaten along with the squash, some home cooks go organic. Those who don’t should scrub the squash well. Some cooks like to give it a brief soak in vinegar and baking powder to help bubble away residual pesticides or other chemicals. Well-washed veggies should be de rigueur in any kitchen, especially those that will be eaten raw, because they might harbor bacteria that could sicken diners.
Sliced or matchstick-cut crookneck squash adds prettiness to salads as well as an interesting texture. Some folks like to layer raw squash into sandwiches along with other veggies, spreads, or meat. They are also welcome on veggie platters along with carrot and celery sticks for some predinner sauce dipping.
There are a myriad of ways to consume summer’s crookneck bounty. Sliced or diced into soup is one way to go. Summer squash makes a great addition to most casseroles or can be sautéed with a little onion for a vegetable side dish. It’s especially yummy when served with other sautéed veggies, such as tomatoes, lima beans, and corn.
Long ago, a very wise and clever cook discovered that adding shredded crookneck squash to batter and dough improved the taste and texture of cakes, muffins, and bread. It’s also a sneaky way to get some extra nutrition into the tummies of children who think they don’t like vegetables. No matter how the cook prepares this yummy squash, the best tip is to serve it often as it is highly perishable and doesn’t like to wait to be appreciated.
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