Throughout the summer and fall, farmer’s market stands and grocery bins alike are overflowing with summer squash of various sizes and shapes in beautiful hues of green and yellow. Unlike winter squash that is left to ripen and mature, summer squash is picked early, when the skin is soft and edible. This is important because the rind is rich in vitamins A and C, which support our body’s existing antioxidant systems in neutralizing free radicals and preventing cell damage.
Besides vitamins A and C, summer squash is a rich natural source of manganese, which supports your internal antioxidant pathways and helps your metabolism run efficiently. Summer squash also contains many important B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, which is an essential part of many of your body’s enzyme pathways. In the body, vitamin B6 helps begin the breakdown of energy to make fuel available to your body.
Summer squashes, both yellow and green, are treated and cooked like vegetables, but – for what it’s worth – they are actually fruits. Most are interchangeable in recipes and are extremely versatile. Steamed as a side, baked into quick bread, stir-fried into a fast supper dish or grilled with a lean protein, zucchini or its yellow cousin make it easy and quick to add nutrients to your daily diet.
Summer squash should be dense, relatively shiny, and blemish-free with a soft rind. Pick the smaller squash over large, about six to eight inches long. If the rind is too hard, the squash is likely over-ripe and will have large seeds and stringy flesh.
Make sure to give summer squashes a hearty wash before eating and cooking, as they are often waxed to maintain moisture during shipping.
Summer squash can be used easily as a pizza topping, in pasta sauce, stir fried, or as a delicious component of a quintessential grilled summer kabob. Grated zucchini is lovely in our Zucchini Bread or even zucchini brownies.