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Food a La Carte

"Sizzling With Squash"

Squash

"Squash For The Month Of September"

I can't believe it's September already. The signs are all around me, kids back in school, football fever is in full-swing, with tailgate parties and festivities every weekend, and holiday decorations in the stores. It seems like the last few months of the year have become one giant holiday, all run together... HalloThanksChristmas maybe?

But, judging by the weather, it's still Summer. And with that, there are still loads of fresh fruits and vegetables to be enjoyed! For many of us, zucchini squash is invariably the one vegetable we cannot even give away this time of year. I don't know why, but when nothing else will grow, any variety of squash, but particularly zucchini, will grow and grow, AND GROW. Just a couple of plants will produce seemingly wheelbarrow-loads of squash. So, just what does one do with it pounds and pounds of squash?

We have a couple of recipes here this month to help you use up that squash, be it pretty striped green zucchini or cute little, or BIG beautiful, yellow summer squash. A good rule of thumb is to figure two large zucchini equal about a pound. However, choose dark-skinned, smaller to medium sized fruit (yes, zucchini is technically a fruit!) that are more flavorful and nutrient-dense. Zucchini is rich in fiber, antioxidants, potassium, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and more, in addition to being very low calorie. That's a lot to love!

Our first recipe, Carrot Zucchini Fritters, is a quick, fun side-dish or appetizer. Even the kids will eat zucchini when it's fried finger food! Use your food processor for the carrots and zucchini; be sure not to skip letting the veggies sit in the colander and squeeze out all the moisture you can. This vital step removes excess water and your fritters will be more crisp and will hold together better while cooking.

Our second recipe, Thyme-Scented Squash Gratin, will absolutely help you use up that overload of squash; this recipe uses a total of four pounds of squash! Think of a regular potato gratin, but with summer and zucchini squash instead of potatoes. Grilling the squash really amps up the flavor. You still have the normal buttery cheesiness of typical gratin, plus the fresh thyme and garlic really brighten the dish. Feel free to add more or a different variety of cheese, you can't go wrong with cheese and more is ALWAYS better!

I hope you try and enjoy our zucchini squash recipes this month. The Carrot Zucchini Fritters make a great appetizer if you have friends dropping by; make them ahead of time, freeze and warm at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until warm. You can keep these in a sealed ziptop bag in the freezer for up to two months. And the next time you're expecting a crowd, Thyme-Scented Squash Gratin will be a winning side dish. Throw some steak or chicken on the grill after the squash are done and dinner will be ready when the gratin comes out of the oven.

Have a wonderful September and see you next month!

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Carrot Zucchini Fritters

Carrot Zucchini Fritters

Prep. time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 20 minutes - Yields Approximately 30 Fritters

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup yogurt, full-fat
  • 1-2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix first five ingredients together in small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

  2. Shred zucchini and carrots using food processor or box grater. Transfer to a colander, generously sprinkle with salt, mix, and let stand for 10-20 minutes then squeeze out the moisture with your hands.

  3. Place the grated vegetables in a large bowl and mix with the red onion, parsley, eggs, flour, salt and pepper.

  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. For each fritter scoop about 1/4 cup mixture onto pan (A large cookie scoop can come in handy here), do not overcrowd. Cook fritters for 3-4 minutes on each side.

  5. Serve warm with yogurt sauce.

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Thyme-Scented Squash Gratin

Thyme-Scented Squash Gratin

Total Time: 1 hour - Prep: 20 Minutes - Serves: 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb. small zucchini, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 lb. small yellow summer squash, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed with press
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded Gruyere cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat outdoor grill on medium-high. Toss zucchini and squash with oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Grill 12 minutes or until mostly tender, turning over once. Transfer to cutting board; let cool. Squash can be grilled up to 3 hours ahead.

  2. Meanwhile, in 3-quart saucepan, heat butter and garlic on medium until butter melts, stirring frequently. Sprinkle flour over butter. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth, then add thyme and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer on high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; cook 1 minute or until thickened; remove from heat.

  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 3-quart broil-safe baking dish. Thinly slice zucchini and squash; arrange half in prepared baking dish, pressing down gently. Top with half of white sauce. Repeat with remaining squash and sauce. Top with cheese.

  4. Bake 15 minute or until cheese is beginning to brown. Broil on high 2 to 4 minutes or until top is deep golden brown. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!