It’s almost that time of summer when the question on everyone’s lips becomes, “What can I do with all this zucchini?” One episode of A Prairie Home Companion (dork alert!) called it the time of year when people have to lock their car doors for fear of coming out of the store to find a bag of squash left stealthily on their front seat.
We only ever grew one zucchini plant in our patio garden and that was two years ago. It produced a maximum of three tiny squash per week which was perfect, because zucchini and summer squash are on the seemingly-endless list of foods my Veggie-Hating Husband does not like. Never having been a fan of quick breads, I prefer to incorporate squash into savory dishes. In fact, I’ve found a squash dish that the Veggie-Hater actually likes!
The irony, of course, is that the magic ingredient is goat cheese. It’s only strange because for the first, oh, two or three years we were together he wouldn’t eat goat cheese, either. Somehow combining the two works, though, and I am not going to argue because I think it’s a tasty meal and it’s quick and easy to throw together.
In this instance I used round yellow Floridor squash because that’s what came in the CSA box. Often I use half zucchini and half crookneck squash for a nice mix of colors.
Zucchini and summer squash don’t have a terribly strong flavor on their own; it’s hard to say they taste especially delicious alone. The flavor here comes from garlic and onions, the texture from the goat cheese, but the bulk is the squash. Technically fruit, squash is mostly water (over 90%) and a bit of fiber stocked with vitamins and minerals. It’s a fantastic source of vitamin C and extremely low in calories. This dish uses the squash to bulk up pasta; you can eat a larger volume of food and add some nutrients without a huge amount of extra calories. I’ve actually started weighing my dry pasta to make sure I’m only using a two ounce serving, and with this much squash it was a little too much food.
For a little comparison, you could eat either one “bloomin’ onion” appetizer from the steakhouse, or you could eat 25 pounds of zucchini for the same amount of calories. I’m not saying anyone should really be eating 25 pounds of anything in one sitting, but maybe you shouldn’t eat the bloomin’ onion, either. Something to consider!
How do you handle zucchini overload?
Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Pasta
Since my squash was yellow and some CSA micro basil was languishing in the fridge I tossed the basil on for color. I also didn’t use as much goat cheese as usual in the photos. The proper amount is listed below. If you save some for lunch the next day add a little extra pasta water before you put it in the fridge so it doesn’t dry out.
- 3 ounces dry long pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 10 ounces zucchini and/or summer squash
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 2-3 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- Boil pasta in well-salted water until slightly al dente. Reserve about 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta.
- If using long, slender squash, slice them into coins. If using wider squash, cut them into half moons or reasonably even dice. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saute pan and add onion. Cook about a minute and add squash. Cook about five minutes until squash is starting to brown lightly. Stir in garlic and cook another minute. Remove pan from heat.
- Crumble the goat cheese. Gradually add all but a few tablespoons to the pasta, stirring well. Add a splash of pasta water to help combine the mixture. Sprinkle on salt and lemon zest, add squash, and toss well. Add more pasta water if needed.
- Serve topped with remaining goat cheese and a grind of black pepper on top. Garnish with fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley if desired.
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