Hidden in plain sight: Summer squash
Parenting magazines and mom bloggers galore offer tips for disguising vegetables. Picky eaters can challenge the most ingenious of cooks.
The ubiquitous chocolate zucchini cake is a favorite, of course. But not everyone eats chocolate and, frankly, children get plenty of sweets without doctoring up things that are good for them.
Besides, you can’t eat cake every day, let alone every meal — a la Marie Antoinette.
Zucchini bread is another favorite recipe. You can add other tasty, nutritious ingredients such as raisins, craisins, nuts and seeds.
But why not “hide” zucchini or summer squash in plain sight?
If you’re looking for a new use for the last 15 pounds of summer squash from your garden, consider making “noodles.”
Zucchini or summer squash
Kosher or sea salt
Grate a tender-skinned summer squash or zucchini lengthwise. We prefer summer squash because of its yellow color.
Place in a strainer or colander to drain while you heat the spaghetti sauce. (Make your own or use a favorite commercial brand.)
Place the squash noodles into a lightly oiled frying pan. Cook a few minutes over medium heat.
When the noodles are hot, pour them back into the strainer or colander to remove the excess water. You also may use a slotted spoon to remove the noodles from the pan, but expect to have a little moisture on the plate.
Serve with warm sauce. Add a sprinkle of cheese if you like.
Of course, children realize that these aren’t pasta noodles, but if you let your children help make this meal — or any other, for that matter — you’ll find they are much more likely to eat it.
Children easily can hold and eventually use the grater. Consider giving a young child clean garden gloves to protect their knuckles.
If you can’t find a summer squash, pick up a spaghetti squash. Let your children help wash it and poke it. Once you’ve baked it in the oven and cut the squash open, your child can use a long kitchen fork to help pull the strands or noodles free.
The first time we made squash noodles at our house, the response said it all: “This is my new favorite supper.”
And the vegetable was hidden in plain sight.
Universal recipe amended over time
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup salad oil
2 cups peeled, grated zucchini
½ tsp. salt
3 ¼ cups flour
2 Tbsp. soda
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon plus a pinch
½ tsp. vanilla (or 1 tsp. orange extract, if you want to jazz up your bread)
2 cups raisins (optional)
Variation: Add 1 cup chopped nuts and substitute ½ tsp. almond extract for the vanilla. But be sure to alert people who may have nut allergies.
Mix together sugar and oil in a large bowl. Mix in eggs and zucchini.
Add salt, flour, soda, spices and flavoring. Mix well. Fold in raisins and possibly nuts.
Grease two bread pans and dust with flour. Add batter. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes. Test at one hour with a toothpick.
Modified from “Colorado Cache Cookbook”
4-5 medium zucchini
1 bunch green onions
32-ounce carton of chicken broth
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
2 tsp. Penzey’s Sunny Paris
(Or a pinch each of: pepper, dill weed, basil, tarragon and chervil, plus a bay leaf.)
Dice zucchini. Cut green onion fine. Add to chicken broth in a large kettle and cook until soft — about 30 minutes. Let cool to a comfortable temperature.
Run the mixture into a blender until pureed. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth.
Serve with warm or cold. This soup freezes beautifully.
Tip: If you run hot liquid in a blender, you will have a minor explosion and you risk burning yourself.
1 zucchini or summer squash
Crushed crackers or bread crumbs
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and heat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the zucchini as thin as possible. A mandolin slicer works best to create rounds that bake and crisp evenly in the oven.
Paint one side of the rounds with ranch dressing. Dust with crumbs. Place painted side down on parchment paper. Paint and dust the other side.
Bake until brown. Check often. The timing will vary depending on the thickness of your chips.
Tip: Tired of zucchini? Try this with eggplant.