You can choose one of three tacks on that moment (during which you are gazing out at your bountiful patch of summer squash) that you are hit (as with a board, upside the head) by the stark realization that nobody currently living with you really desires to eat summer squash. (You’ve grown a whole stinking lot of it. What are you going to do with all those squashes? And more setting on each day!)
Tack One, i.e. The Martyr: Give away, sell, toss into the chook yard, or otherwise dispose of the superfluous veg. Bushel . . . by . . . blessed . . . bushel. While feeling just a wee bit sorry for yourself.
Strategy Two, that is, Nazi Cook: Square your shoulders, set your jaw, ignore the hoarse, unhappy cries of the squash-haters in your midst, and just cook it up for supper, anyway. You are the cook. You make the choices. Deal with it, Family. ha!
Plan Three, or Clever Gardener Cook: Make it your secret and especial challenge to make the squash haters in your midst into squash lovers by the end of the season, or, to put another way, find/develop/make recipes that will have your family begging for more squash.
Does that third option sound like an impossible dream? (GOOD QUESTION!)
(Okay, who added “The Skeet Shooter” . . . ? ha!)
You’ll have to guess which of these I decided upon this very week, gentlest reader. But I’ll give you a couple of hints. Or a few. In a list, since that’s the modus operandi for today’s blog writing, apparently.
- I raised ’em, ergo I’m not gonna waste ’em.
- I’ve got onions and fresh herbs and cheeses and lovely eggs and pasta, and all these things do a nice job of camouflaging summer squash, in case my housemates need persuading (prediction: they will), and finally . . .
- SHOOT! I really like summer squash! (Mama has preferences.) I hanker after it in the winter months. I never tire of a simple side dish of summer squash, sauteed in olive oil and garlic and fresh herbs until it’s jammy and sweet. It’s simple. It’s currently plentiful. It’s lovely, and I want to cook with it, doggonit!
So. My loins are girded and I’m up to the task. Want to join me in this squashcentric challenge, dear One? There are many, many intriguing recipes that include zucchini and/or summer squash online (I checked!). Also there are many in my multitudinous recipe books (I checked there, too). It’s a funny thing . . . *As if it’s an easy thing to grow summer squash (it is) and as if it’s a crop that produces in wild abundance (usually this is true, as well).
So this recipe, to cut to the chase (uncharacteristic of me, I know, but I have summer squash recipes to try out, ya know), is a super duper way to use up a few of those summer squash on your countertop that . . .
- your kindly neighbor dropped off (he’s a gardener and his family doesn’t like squash, either),
- you might have grown yourself (clever clever you!) or
- somebody in the fam (probably you) picked up at the farmer’s market, to be polite perhaps, because the vendor looked lonesome and discouraged. Not because you needed it. Because: see *line above.
This recipe is a winner for disguising purposes because: CHEESE and lots of it (three types if you count cottage cheese, and I do), the word “lasagna” is always an attractive one to have in the title of any recipe, and finally–who doesn’t like pasta? Boom, baby. (And I haven’t even mentioned the lovely sauce that holds it all together.)
After all, if the inmates of your home aren’t cray-cray about summer squash and zukes and their summer abundance ilk, the fact that they’ll be surrounded with pasta, cheeses, herbs and such is not such a bad place for them to be (the squash, not the inmates, fyi).
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 3 cups chopped zucchini
- 3 cups chopped yellow squash
- 2 cups chopped broccoli
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3½ cups 2% low-fat milk
- 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of nutmeg
- 3 cups chopped kale (spinach will work well here, too)
- 1½ cups cottage cheese
- 2 cups preshredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 12 precooked lasagna noodles, divided
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- slosh in a couple tsps of olive oil
- Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute.
- Spoon onion mixture into a large bowl.
- Heat another tsp oil in pan over medium-high heat.
- Add zucchini and yellow squash; sauté 4 minutes or until tender and just beginning to brown. Stir in fresh herbs.
- Add to onion mixture.
- Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped broccoli; sauté 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add to onion mixture. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt; toss well to combine. Stir in as much pepper as you like.
- Place flour in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add ½ cup Parmesan, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg; stir until smooth. Stir in chopped kale.
- Combine cottage cheese and 1½ cups mozzarella; stir well.
- Spread ½ cup sauce & kale mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over spinach mixture in dish; top with half of cottage cheese mixture (about 1½ cups), half of vegetable mixture (about 2½ cups), and about 1 cup spinach mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining spinach mixture over noodles; sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan and remaining ½ cup mozzarella.
- Cover and bake at 375° for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If you can wait that long! Dig in!
There you have it! The first summer squashcentric recipe on the books and in my family’s tummies. And . . either they were just being polite (doubt it) or they didn’t hate this recipe. In any case, everybody seemed to enjoy it!
In other news . . . for those of you who are following my daughter-in-law’s cancer story, Sonia is doing very well, with two chemo treatments behind her. Her oncologist is happy with the way her body is responding to treatment, and that’s great news. She has one more chemo treatment, and then she’ll be in the hospital for several weeks in the fall for a stem cell transplant. Here’s where you can read all about it, and if you wouldn’t mind adding these sweet kids to your prayer list, I’d certainly appreciate it.
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