Considering the many years that I have spent in the kitchen, and the many nerdy health-food kicks that I have gone on, I am here to tell you that I learned something new today. I learned about the health benefits of summer squash.
What was I doing studying these benefits anyway? I am glad you were wondering! Knowing a lot about food – or any topic for that matter – can lead to something dangerous. It can lead to people thinking that they are “know it all’s,” it can lead to putting a stop to one’s own curiosity, and it can lead someone to taking a lot for granted. I took summer squash for granted. I feel a bit ashamed for it. I feel like maybe I sold them out a bit. I swear, I didn’t mean to. I will certainly not do it again – to squash or any other vegetable for that matter! Each and every vegetable has a unique essence. It has a unique flavor that it provides to the world. Each vegetable deserves appreciation for its contribution to the dinner table.
For a moment or two I forgot how well squash plays its part. It’s not fancy or highly prized like truffles are. It doesn’t get anywhere near the attention that the garden fresh tomato receives every summer. What can I say? I grew up eating a lot of squash in the summer, and even though I truly love it, I took it for granted.
During my years of working in restaurants, no one ever asked me detailed questions about summer squash. I am willing to bet that other people have taken it for granted, too. How about people who didn’t grow up in the South? They are probably not even familiar with summer squash to begin with!
So here’s the deal, according to Wikipedia: summer squashes are a subset of squashes that are harvested when immature, while the rind is still tender and edible. Technically speaking, squash is a fruit of various members of the gourd family (according to The New Food Lover’s Companion). Squash is native to the Western Hemisphere. There is evidence of it being eaten in Mexico as far back as 500 B.C., and in South America more than 2,000 years ago. Squash is generally divided into two categories – summer squash and winter squash. I will tell you more about my favorite winter squashes next time.
All parts of the summer squash are edible. They are comprised mostly of water, so they are a low calorie vegetable choice. There are 18 calories in one cup of summer squash, which provides 32 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. It is also high in niacin and vitamin A.
Summer squashes themselves come in a number of varieties. The most common ones are yellow crookneck, zucchini, and patty pan, which can be yellow or green. Summer squashes have a mild flavor. They are nicely complemented with flavors of onions, garlic, and fresh herbs like basil and oregano.
You can fry, roast, bake, steam, grill, or sauté summer squash. They are popular in a dish called ratatouille, which comes from the French region of Provence. In the southern region of the United States, summer squashes often get put into casseroles. That is definitely one of my favorite renditions. My dear friend and fellow foodie Fran Moore loves squash as much as I do. I am going to share Fran’s squash recipe with you in my next post.
Lesson: Sometimes we can miss some gems in life because we get a bit too comfy thinking that we know a lot about “this or that.” We can always learn more. Our lives will be enriched and certainly more enjoyable with a healthy drive for learning and asking questions. The most “zealous for life and learning” people I know on this planet have a question that drives their work: “What is it that we do not know, that we do not know, that we do not know yet?” How about that for a question to ask yourself at least once a day?
If you are interested, you can learn more about their passion for learning and expertise at globalprocessology.com