The Summer Squash Conundrum

10 Aug

I was at the garden on Monday morning to tend to “my” bean plants, which haven’t been doing so well.  I call them my bean plants because I have a bit of an attachment to them; back in May I was assigned the task of planting the kidney bean-like seeds along the west fence of the garden.  Since then, I have diligently watered and weeded around the seeds, anxiously waiting for the plants to flourish.  Some have grown significantly while most have had their tops eaten off by the deer.  Sigh.  On a positive note, a few of the plants have recently flowered so it looks like there will be beans (if only a few) after all.

While at the garden, I picked up a few treats: a turnip (great for turnip “fries”, which look just like french fries but have that characteristic turnip bitterness), a few patty pan squash, and a handful of these odd looking berries:

Cape Gooseberries (aka Ground Cherries)

After a bit of research, I discovered that these are called cape gooseberries (also known as ground cherries) and grow inside of a husk-like pod, which creates a beautiful “leaf” at the top of the berry when opened.  As for taste, they are kind of like a sweet, fruity tomato.  Not my favourite, but they’re pretty and make a nice garnish.

Now, to the squash.  I picked up two patty pans that were lying in the middle of the garden after having been dislodged from their respective plants after a thunderstorm the night before.  I also picked one that was MASSIVE because I figured it would have otherwise gone to waste.

The patty pan squash family

While trying to decide what to do with my squash family, I went online to read up on patty pans.  They come in 3 different colours (yellow, green, and white– we have the white variety in our garden), have a similar texture and taste as zucchini, and are normally cooked when they are no more than 2 to 3 inches in diameter.  Uh oh.  My little guy fit the bill but the massive one was more like 8 inches!  Apparently there is no harm in eating larger patty pans but they tend to lose flavour and tenderness with age.  With that, I decided to slice and saute the two smaller ones in a little bit of olive oil (delicious! tasted just like sauteed zucchini) and I chopped up the massive one to make… a SOUP!

This soup was totally improvised so the recipe below is just a guide.  The best (and most necessary) part is the Moroccan spice mix.  I had some leftover from a snack I made last week (roasted chickpeas, which I am still determined to perfect… more on that another day) and decided to throw some in.  It’s a super flavourful spice mix that will definitely become a staple in my spice rack.  For this soup you can use just about any summer squash– zucchini, yellow summer squash, or patty pans.

Summer Squash Soup

Summer Squash Soup

1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 extremely large patty pan squash or 4 zucchinis, chopped into 1 inch cubes
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (or water)
2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (see below)
salt, to taste (optional)

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until softened and beginning to brown.
  2. Add squash and saute for another minute.  Add spice mix and saute for 1 minute, or until spices become fragrant.
  3. Add vegetable broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat, allow to cool slightly, and puree in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender.  Add salt to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

Makes 3 servings.  Per serving: 105 kcal, 3 g fat, 3 g fibre, 300 mg sodium

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Moroccan Spice Mix    (from Fine Cooking magazine)

2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp sweet paprika (I used regular)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of ground cloves

Mix all spices together and store in a glass jar.

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