Smitten with Squash

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

From zucchini to kabocha, there is a variety of squash to enjoy every season. Larry Meiller finds out how to grow, cook and enjoy those vegetables.

Featured in this Show

  • Author Offers Recipes For Squash Lovers

    Amanda Paa loves squash. While people are surprised that she would write a whole book about it — with more than 80 recipes — Paa said she doesn’t think it’s odd at all, especially given the abundance of wonderful and sometimes unusual offerings at the Midwest’s farmers’ markets, which is where she first encountered a butternut squash.

    Paa’s book, “Smitten with Squash,” is the result of that affection. A passionate “tastemaker” and self-taught cook, she is also the author of the blog Heartbeet Kitchen.

    Physically, squash have a “Beauty and the Beast” aspect to them, Paa said.

    “They’re not always really pretty on the outside,” she said, “but once you get inside of them, the opportunities are endless.”

    At this time of year, both home gardens and farmers’ markets are likely bursting with summer squash.

    Paa offered these two recipes as delicious ways to use and enjoy the bounty:

    Zucchini, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

    Risotto sings the true essence of comfort any time of year, and this one, plumb full of summer vegetables and fresh basil, does not disappoint. Beaming with a rainbow of colors, it’s a vegetarian and naturally gluten-free dish that’s amazingly rich and creamy.

    The flavors are bright and herbal, the paper-thin zucchini nearly melting into the rice. One of the perks of risotto is its adaptability to the seasons or whatever your CSA box surprises you with, so feel free to improvise.

    Serves 4

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • ½ cup finely chopped onion
    • 1 ¼ cups Arborio rice
    • 1 (7.5-ounce) jar marinated artichokes, liquid reserved, artichokes drained and chopped
    • ½ cup dry white wine
    • 4 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth, warmed, plus more as needed
    • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 small zucchini and 1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
    • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

    In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Increase heat and add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

    Add rice and reserved artichoke liquid and cook, stirring, until rice is translucent with a white spot in the middle, looking somewhat like a tooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 1 minute.

    Add 1 cup warm stock, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Add another cup of stock and stir until it is absorbed.

    Stir in squash, artichokes, and red peppers. Add remaining stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring between additions until almost completely absorbed.

    Test the rice to see if it is al dente, and if not, add more stock by the half cup and cook until rice reaches desired texture, usually 25 to 30 minutes. It should be creamy with a toothsome bite. Stir in the cheese, butter, and basil and, once melted, remove from heat. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

    Refreshing Summer Squash and Watermelon Salad

    I equate this refreshing salad to the thirst quencher that agua fresca can be. When it’s so hot you can’t even think about heating up the stove, this beautiful pile of veggie noodles and cool watermelon is the answer. It’s hydrating and crunchy, sprinkled with a confetti of red pepper flakes and fresh herbs to make your tongue tingle. Drop this tangle onto a sea-salted wedge of crisp melon for a shockingly delicious summer beauty.

    Serves 2

    • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
    • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
    • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
    • 2 small yellow squash (the straighter the better), about 1 ¼ pounds
    • 1 (1 ½ –inch) piece watermelon, cut into 4 wedges
    • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
    • red pepper flakes

    In a skillet, toast sesame seeds over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. When they are fragrant, remove from heat and empty onto a plate to cool.

    In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and herbs. Set aside.

    Cut stems and bottom inch off of squash. Create squash noodles by using a mandoline or a julienne vegetable peeler. Toss the noodles with the dressing; taste and add salt if needed.

    Lay two slices of watermelon on each plate, with tips of triangles touching. Distribute noodles evenly on both plates, mounding atop watermelon. Sprinkle each plate with sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, then garnish with red pepper flakes.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Amanda Paa Guest

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