There’s Only One Right Way to Cook Summer Squash

You have to be careful about to whom you profess your love of summer squash.

Tell the wrong person about the pleasurable tingling you receive when you think about patty pans, zucchini, and yellow squash coming into season and they might question how much time and effort they’re putting into a relationship with you.

But divulge to the right person and you’ll feel a special bond. The sweetness of those patty pans! The slight crunch of those zucchinis when cooked a perfect al dente. The buttery beauty of yellow squash christened with the heat of a grill! Heaven is summer squash season! Rejoice!

And then after you both embrace, tears of joy streaming down your cheeks, you may launch into a discussion on the finer points of preparing and cooking (and honoring the blessing that is) summer squash. It may go something like this…

“Do you peel summer squash before you cook it?”

“I guess you could, if you wanted to, but that would sort of be like removing Charlie Theron from that Aeon Flux remake: You wouldn’t be left with much. The skin of summer squash—be it the fresh-cut-grass-green of a zucchini, or the pale tones of a Zephyr Squash—holds all of its beauty. Keep the skin on, I say.”

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“How long does it take for squash to boil?”

“Oh, well, I’m not particularly fond of boiling squash, honest’y. Boiling any vegetable, unless you’re cooking it just a few minutes and then tossing it into an ice bath (also known as blanching), tends to leach the poor thing of its texture and flavor. If you have to boil squash, that’s how you would do it. Otherwise, grill it.”

“Okay then, how do you grill summer squash?”

“Now that’s a smart question. I usually take whatever squash I’m using and slice it into ¼-inch-thick rounds. (For patty pans, just do the best you can. They’re shaped funny, I know.) Then I coat them liberally with olive oil, because the squash tends to soak up some of the oil. Once they are well-coated, go wild with the kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.”

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“When my grill is nice and hot, I toss the rounds onto the grill grates. I make sure they sizzle there for about one or two minutes and then I flip them. I repeat that process until they are well charred, but still tender—not floppy. It takes maybe eight minutes in total, tops.”

“Then I put the grilled squash rounds into a bowl and toss with a whole bunch of fresh chopped garden herbs. Basil, oregano, parsley, thyme. All that good stuff. There’s just something about fresh herbs that goes really well with grilled summer squash.”

“What do you put in squash?”

“Huh? You don’t put anything in squash. It’s delicious as is if you’re grilling it. The only thing you should stuff into summer squash is your face.”

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