Buy, Store & Prepare
Buying and Storing
If left to maturity, these vegetables will grow very large, but they are at their best when young and tender. Choose them small and firm, with bright colour and no bruises or soft spots, particularly at the stem end. Pattypans should be 5 cm across, yellow squashes, marrows and zucchini up to 15 cm long.
Their tender skin bruises easily, so handle with care. Store in the refrigerator for up to five days, wrapped in plastic to protect from drying.
Summer squash can be eaten raw; grated or sliced in salads, or sliced and served on a plate of crudities with dip. Grated zucchini is often an ingredient in muffins or quick breads.
The taste and texture of summer squash is perhaps best appreciated, however, lightly steamed or simmered in butter. Summer squashes can be left whole, large ones cut in 1 cm slices. Cook about five minutes, until tender crisp, and top with fresh herbs (chives, dill, parsley, thyme), salt and pepper.
Combined with other fresh vegetables lightly sautéed in olive oil with garlic, fresh basil and oregano, summer squash adds interesting taste and texture to a prima vera topping for pasta, along with grated Parmesan cheese
Sliced in half lengthways, zucchini or yellow squash can be barbecued until tender crisp, and topped with basil pesto. To very fancy, small (6 cm) squashes can be cooked with their flowers still attached. Sliced along their length, but left attached at the stem, the tiny zucchini are fanned decoratively and the flowers filled with a savoury mousse.
Very large summer squash can be scooped out, filled with stuffing, and baked until tender.