CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Summer squash and zucchini can seem like a plague of locusts - in the summer, when they're plentiful. In the winter? They are like touching the sun. Too much summer squash and zucchini? Blanch it and freeze it. Don't give it away! No stuffing it in people's back seats when they're not lookin', or dropping it off on people's porches!
Before freezing, cut it up however you want it. You can slice it for frying later, or julienne it for recipes. I mostly julienne mine (using the french fry blade in my food processor) - which makes it perfect for casseroles, breads, stews, stir-frys, and many other recipes. First, I cut it in about two-inch chunks then julienne it in my food processor. Blanch in a pot of boiling water and drain. Then freeze! (I put about 2 cups per quart-size freezer baggie. I do squash and zucchini together, whatever I have that day, because I use them in similar ways.)
Summer, stashed away for the middle of winter when you will, oh, so need its cheer!
In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite recipes to use up your bounty right out of the garden.
Writer Suzanne McMinn lives in Roane County, where she writes every day in her blog, Chickens in the Road, at www.chickensinthe road.com.
Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms
fresh squash flowers
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) chives
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
oil for frying
Pick squash blossoms. (If you choose male flowers, which grow on longer, thinner stems, you'll avoid reducing your crop.) Cut stems off at the base and clip out stamens from the inside. Rinse thoroughly, shake off excess water, and let blossoms air dry on paper towels.
Combine softened cream cheese with chives and onion. Spoon about an ounce into each blossom (less if you're using smaller flowers). Close blossoms. Whisk egg and milk together in one bowl and mix flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in another. Dip closed blossoms in the wet then the dry mixture until well-coated. Fry over medium heat until browned on both sides. Drain and serve with Ranch dressing or dip.
Note: Squash blossoms are best picked in the morning and they don't keep well. Use as quickly as possible after harvesting. If not using for a day or two, refrigerate.
Summer Vegetable Pie
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup yellow squash, chopped