Although they’re called “summer squash,” early autumn is often the best time to get these versatile vegetables. They are harvested in abundance this time of year, and although they’re at their peak when purchased at a farmer’s market, grocery stores will usually have fresh supplies as well.
Summer vs. Winter: Although both types of squash belong to the same botanical family, the differences between summer and winter squash are distinct. Summer squash (such as zucchini, yellow crookneck, and pattypan) have thin, edible skins and soft, edible seeds, and require little to no cooking to be eaten. Winter squash (such as acorn, butternut, and hubbard) have hard, thick skin and seeds and require a much longer cooking time to make them edible.
There’s a big nutritional difference as well: while 4 ounces of summer squash will only cost you 24 calories and 4 grams of carbs, 4 ounces of winter squash weigh in at 64 calories and 12 grams of carbs. This is due to winter squash’s high starch and sugar content, which is why GreenLite recommends avoiding them during the weight loss phases. Although calorically low, summer squash is loaded with vitamins A, C, and niacin. Choose smaller squash for best flavor and fewer seeds, and store in the refrigerator for no more than 5 days. This assures their freshness and optimum nutritional value.
I prefer my summer squash simply prepared to appreciate their fresh, delicate flavor. A favorite and super easy preparation is to slice into thick coins or lengthwise slabs, lightly spray with olive oil, and grill (or broil) until just golden brown. Finish with a sprinkling of salt and ground pepper, plus some chopped fresh herbs of your choice — I prefer chives or dill — and a squeeze of lemon. Another near-effortless way to enjoy zucchini is to use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to slice into thin ribbons, then dress with your favorite vinaigrette and a pinch of grated parmesan cheese.
Our Chicken Packets with Whole-Grain Mustard & Summer Squash recipe is a tasty and convenient way to combine summer squash with your protein, and it comes together in an easy to cook and serve foil packet. Enjoy!