Although summer officially arrived Friday, summer vegetables are nearing their peak season.
Squash and zucchini, as well as acorn and butternut squash, are plentiful in Coast vegetable gardens, vegetable stands and farmers’ markets.
My farm-fresh vegetable delivery included several yellow-crooked neck squash as well as zucchini. I can eat yellow squash raw with a dip. My favorite way is sliced and boiled in salted water and butter. After the squash is soft, I drain the water and add some light cream or milk and slightly mash the squash. Oh, that is good eating.
Recently, I made an old-time squash casserole for our weekly church lunch. This recipe must be done step-by-step, the first being sautéing the sliced squash in butter along with a medium sliced onion. When I spooned the squash into the next mixture, I dropped one of the squash slices on the stovetop.
Not thinking I was making a fool of myself; I did a little happy dance about how good that squash tasted. My daughter asked if I was OK. I replied that I was, but that I just love the flavor of yellow squash. Of course, she gave me that “are you losing it” look. She doesn’t appreciate the finer tastes of fresh squash. I messed up somewhere in her rearing.
At our Sunday church meals, summer arrived ahead of time. Last Sunday, a large pot of pink-eyed peas graced the table, as did fresh tomatoes and my squash casserole.
Honestly, I have a lot of veggie favorites when summer rolls around. Celery is the only vegetable I dislike. The rest I enjoy enough to dine on an all-veggie dinner, but my daughter and granddaughter like to have meat, whether it be beef, pork or chicken.
When I was growing up, my grandfather always had a garden, fig orchard, chickens and cows. I was raised on fresh vegetables, yard eggs, fresh milk, cream and butter. It takes a trip to a farm for most teens and children to experience this today. Several years ago, I taught my kids’ cooking class to churn butter. They were amazed that they made butter.
For those who like squash or zucchini, end up with too much in the vegetable bin, I have two recipes, one for the squash casserole and another for a three-cheese garden pizza.
Donna Johnston of Long Beach, Mississippi, shares two blueberry desserts while fresh blueberries are still available.
“This is my very favorite blueberry pie recipe, and you don’t have to turn the oven on during those hot days,” she said.
She also sent a recipe for blueberry cobbler that home cooks don’t even have to get the beater out. Due to column length, I will share the cobbler recipe next week.
“I haven’t made this one yet, but plan to soon,” she said. “It Is from ‘Cook’s Country,’ so I am sure it is a good one.”
Coming next week
A reader named Vicky has been patiently waiting for my spicy pumpkin soup recipe.
OLD-SCHOOL SQUASH CASSEROLE
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 pounds yellow squash, sliced ¼-inch thick (about 5-6 medium squash)
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 large eggs, lightly browned
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 sleeves round buttery crackers, coarsely chopped (I used Ritz)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1/4 cup) (I used grated because that is what I had)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add squash, onion and 1 teaspoon salt; cook stirring often, until center of squash is just tender, and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a colander set over a bowl. Drain 5 minutes; discard any liquid.
Stir together eggs, sour cream, cheddar and Swiss cheeses, mayonnaise, thyme, pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Gently fold in squash mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 11-by-7-inch (2-quart) baking dish.
Microwave remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a medium-size microwavable bowl on high until melted about 25 seconds. Toss together crackers, Parmesan cheese and melted butter until combined; sprinkle over casserole. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
— From Southern Living
3-CHEESE GARDEN PIZZA
1 package (10 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 ounce (1/4 cup) fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll our pizza crust into a 14-inch circle on large round pizza stone. Bake crust 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from oven.
Finely slice tomato, zucchini and onion. Slice mushrooms. Spread garlic over crust. Sprinkle crust with mozzarella and cheddar cheese, top with tomatoes, Sprinkle with seasoning. Layer zucchini, onion and mushrooms over tomatoes. Grate Parmesan cheese over top. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Yield: 8 servings.
— From Pampered Chef
4 ounces cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 (8-ounce) tub Cool Whip
4 cups blueberries
2 baked pie crusts or ready-made graham cracker crusts
With mixer, blend together cream cheese and condensed milk. Stir in juice. Fold in Cool Whip then berries. Spoon into baked pie crusts or graham cracker crusts and refrigerate. Makes 2 pies.
— Submitted by Donna Johnston