It was a fine Saturday, and I was strolling through the market, examining its bounty. Personally, I'm drawn to the unusual, which is what makes farmers markets so great. These are the places to go if you want to find produce of the more odd variety; pickin's you can't get at your everyday supermarket. And as soon as I saw this squash-thing, I knew I needed to buy one. Buy it and eat it.
I briefly considered biting into it like an apple, but then decided I'd rather cook the thing up. Somehow. According to the woman peddling the wares, the best way to eat this squash is to slice it up and put it in a stir fry.
Naturally, I ignored her advice and did something completely different. I mean, what adventure is there in following the beaten path?
First step: research. What does one do with a summer squash? Allrecipes has some fabulous recipe ideas, including squash pizza, casserole, grilled squash, even shredding it up and using it in baked goods. My research also indicates that the best herbs for summer squash are marjoram, cumin seeds, parsley, dill, rosemary and savory - but don't use too much. It is easy to overpower the delicate flavor of squash.
But then, what about those casseroles in which the squash is smothered in cheese and sauce?
Well, think about it. You have a vegetable with a delicate flavor that can easily be overpowered. Its texture makes for a good base to soak up sauces. What are some other mild-flavored, nice-textured, absorbent bases we use in cooking? Rice. Pasta. Squash can serve the same purpose. In fact, I was once served a "spaghetti" dinner in which the "pasta" was actually julienned zucchini. It was tasty, and a good tactic for those trying to cut back on their carbs.
So, it seems like the prospective squash-cooker has a choice: delicate additions to enhance - but not stifle - squash flavor? Or use squash as a handy sponge to soak up the hearty flavors of other things?
For my squash, I ended up doing something in-between. I roasted the summer squash in peanut oil and salt, then placed atop a bed of sesame noodles and peas. Perfect balance of flavors. Wanna try? You can find the recipe here.
The New Albany Farmers Market is on the corner of Bank and Market Street, and is open Saturdays from 8-12 and Wednesdays from 4-7.
[photos by Angie Andriot]