It is zucchini season and the deluge of large green baseball bat veggies has begun. I prefer them a bit more tender; picked well before they become gigantic. I like yellow crookneck squash as well, especially home grown and picked very tender. You can get a yellow zucchini (absolutely there is such a thing!) at Giant Grocery stores and it looks great mixed with slices of green summer squash. Then there are patty pan squash which are generally pale green and yes, shaped like a flying saucer. Kinda different you might think but similar flavor to other summer squash.
You may think you know summer squash until you come across a tromboncino summer squash which is an Italian heirloom variety. It looks sort of like a zucchini and a gourd had a baby: it is pale green with a swollen end and long curvy stem. My sister grows them and I remember that my college roomie’s parents grew them up strings in their narrow back yard. They have long vines like a gourd so a trellis works much better than just letting the vines sprawl. So, I bought a packet of the seeds from superseeds.com last winter. I have one vine at my house and one at a church community garden I administer. I picked my first one last weekend. It was 27 inches plus long not counting the curve; more like 30 inches if you ran a tape measure along the whole thing.
What to do with my lovely long squash? Bernie’s mom used to cook it in thin tomato sauce and some garlic. She called it a gourgutza! I call it tasty… I had a just picked Japanese eggplant, fresh basil in the garden and a red onion. So I went with them as the other major components of my dish. A can of chopped tomatoes was added to create a fresh and un-homogenized sauce. Finally, I had some red lentil rotini pasta from Aldi’s; been meaning to try it in something special. They all came together in a lovely fresh tasting one pan entree I know I will make again soon. Use what ever summer squash you have but don’t cut it thin; leave it chunky for this dish. If you ever get a tromboncini do give it a try; very tasty.
Angie’s Summer Squash Sauté
2 cups cubed or half round summer squash; cut thick; ½ inch diameter
1 Japanese eggplant
1/3 lb ground chicken or pork
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 15 oz can finely chopped tomatoes
8 or 9 fresh large basil leaves chopped fine
2 tbsp. dry white wine
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/3 cup dry rotini pasta; cook it until very al dente
Directions: Cut the eggplant on the diagonal into slices, cut into long strips; put in colander, sprinkle with sea salt, let drip for about 20 minutes, wipe clean with paper towel.
Heat your pan, I used my smaller wok. sauté the ground chicken in 1 tbsp. olive oil; pressing it down to a thin layer, brown and turn, add red onion, brown the meat on other side; chop up; cook about 5-7 minutes total until done; remove from pan and place in a bowl for later use.
Heat the salted water for the pasta and cook it while you are sautéing all the veggies. Reserve at least ½ cup of the cooking water to add back as needed to the final dish.
Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to the same pan, heat until fairly hot, add the eggplant. Cook on both sides, after a couple minutes on each side add ¼ cup water to keep it from sticking. As it cooks after the water goes in add the minced garlic and the summer squash. Cook 3-5 minutes more, while it cooks add the juice from the can of tomatoes. Stir occasionally to cook evenly and after a couple minutes add the can of drained tomatoes, a pinch of red pepper flakes and cover. Let cook 4 or 5 minutes, add white wine, cook 2 more minutes until squash is barely fork tender. Add cooked pasta, the meat and red onion mixture and then the finely chopped basil, cook one minute, taste and add some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to your personal taste. If it seems dry add some of the pasta water. Serve immediately.
It was still very tasty the next day. I added a touch more of the pasta cooking water when I put my leftovers away in the refrigerator, to keep things moist. The red lentil pasta did not get crunchy or soggy as many gf pastas do. I don’t know if Aldi’s still carries it as their gf stuff changes constantly. But if I see it there I am definitely buying more. Enjoy!