>> Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Few things say summer like a meal of fresh, tender vegetables. Two of our favorite fresh vegetables are summer squash and fresh green beans. These are available year round now, but they're so much better when they're fresh and at least semi-local (seems like nothing is truly local here in non-agricultural northern Wyoming). As a fond farewell to summer, which is long gone from here, I want to share two of my favorite preps of these vegetables.
Before getting to some recipes, you know I have to talk a little nutritional data. Let's start with squash. Summer squash is high in vitamin C and manganese and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Summer squash has a mild flavor that is very different from winter squash. This nutrient-rich food comes in many different forms - zucchini (great hidden in baked goods), pattypan, and yellow crookneck squash to name a few.
Moving onto green beans. These little green pods are actually nutritionally dense. They're an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. They're a good source of vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. On top of that, they'll also provide a little dose of magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, phosphorus, protein, omega-3 fatty acids (not much, though), and niacin. Your mom was right when she told you to eat your green beans!
On to the recipes! I must admit that I'm not always a fan of summer squash. I like it when it is prepared so that it's still kind of crisp, and I like it when it's cooked to the point of caramelization (like this recipe), but in between, well, not so much. I will also admit the kids don't really like squash at all. Not one bit. But, I didn't either as a child, so I have hope that they'll outgrow their dislike.
Enough babbling. My prep of summer squash is very easy. I start with a nice tender yellow crookneck squash (younger is better), but really any summer squash could be used. Slice into thin coins. Next I add about a little less than an equal amount of onion. I like onion - a lot - but you could certainly use less. Next add 2-3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook over medium-high heat with a little olive oil until the onions and squash are a little caramelized. Season with salt, pepper, and any seasoning of your choice (I like to use onion powder) along the way. So simple, and so darn good!
Next the green beans. I like green beans most any way they're prepared. Crisp and barely cooked is delish, but cooked to the point of falling apart (aka Southern style) is equally good to me. Fortunately, the kids love green beans too. It's the vegetable I turn to when I want to make sure that the kids get a little veggie in their bodies.
The prep I'm going to talk about here is roasting green beans. Have you ever tried a roasted green bean? They look strange and charred, but trust me when I tell you that they are divine. And making them couldn't be easier. Start with fresh green beans. Spread in an even, single layer on a baking sheet and coat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Sprinkle with some salt - pepper too if you're feeling frisky. Put into a oven preheated to 475 F and let roast for 15 min. For even cooking, shake the pan a couple of times while it's roasting. (I don't, and my green beans end up brown on one side and green on the other - but just as delish.)