Zucchini and yellow squash are hitting markets in a delicious, summer-fresh avalanche. Both of these vegetables are in peak season and readily available at bargain prices.
Most summers, area farmers plant so much of these squashes that when they come into full season, they flood the market. "This makes it very cheap," says Walter Zolotuchin of Stella Farms in Tansboro, N.J. "But it's still a wonderful food."
For the record, zucchini is the long, green squash. Yellow squash -- called yellow zucchini by some -- comes in two varieties: straightneck, which is shaped like a small baseball bat, and crookneck, much like straightneck but with an arched shape.
Zucchini and yellow squash make great companions to fresh tomatoes, onions and peppers. They both react well to such seasonings as garlic, oregano, fresh basil, lemon juice and drizzles of olive oil or peanut oil. They also adapt well to other vegetables.
Zucchini and yellow squash will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. They can be steamed, fried, baked, sauteed or used raw in salads.
Either squash can be used in most recipes calling for one or the other. Most times, both can be used in a single recipe for color and texture contrast. Personal taste is the guide for making these changes.
The first two recipes are from "Vegetables" (Barron's, 1985).
Yellow squash and onion omelet
Makes four servings.
1 pound small, unpeeled yellow squash
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash and dry squash. Cut off ends and slice thin. Cook the squash in 2 inches of water for two to three minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in an 8- to 10-inch skillet. Add the squash, onions and red bell pepper and saute until lightly browned.
Combine eggs, sugar, turmeric, salt and black pepper in a bowl and beat well. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cover. Cook over medium-high heat until the omelet is set on the bottom, about three minutes. Invert omelet onto a 12-inch plate. Pour off any oil remaining in skillet. Slip omelet back into skillet and cook for two to three minutes longer or until second side is nicely browned. Transfer omelet to a serving platter or serve directly from the skillet.
Zucchini cups filled with radish slivers
Makes two to three servings.
2 small zucchini, about 1 by 6 inches
4 long white radishes
8 red radishes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Wash zucchini and trim ends with a straight cut, so each can stand on end. Cook in boiling water until tender, about three minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water; dry well. Cut zucchini in half crosswise, so each half can stand on end. Cut each half in half again with a diagonal cut. This gives each zucchini piece a flat end and a diagonal end. Scoop out seeds from diagonal ends to form a cup, with the straight bottoms as a base. Salt and pepper each cup.
Shred white and red radishes. Combine oil, vinegar or lemon juice, salt and peppers, and mix into shredded radish. Fill each cup to overflowing with the shredded radish mixture.
This recipe is from "Barry Ballister's Fruit and Vegetable Stand" (Overlook Press, 1987).
Creamy garlic and zucchini salad
Makes two to three servings.
6 cloves garlic
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup light vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound small zucchini
1/2 medium red bell pepper
Make a dressing by first coarsely chopping garlic and parsley. Blend minced garlic and parsley with the oil, vinegar and black pepper, using a blender. Peel and cut zucchini into small chunks. Finely chop the red pepper. Place zucchini in a bowl. Pour dressing over and sprinkle red pepper on top. Chill.