Much as I love my garden and what it produces, this time of year can be a bit overwhelming, especially when I don’t have the time to spend in the kitchen that I’d like. The island in my kitchen has been positively taken over by yellow crookneck squash and tomatoes, and tonight I thought ‘enough already!’
The yellow crookneck is a fun-looking squash, so unabashedly, cheerfully yellow and with that whimsical neck. The plants on which it grows are lovely and exuberant looking, particularly once festooned with these pretty summer squashes. They are supposed to be at their best young (and I can say firsthand that they are very good), but I’ve not minded about letting quite a few of our crop get a bit longer in the tooth. It’s the difference between a zucchini or courgette and a more youthful winter squash.
With so many green tomatoes ripening involuntarily on my island, it was time to think about pairing these two, so tonight I threw them together in a casserole to be topped by cheese in the final minutes of baking.
With a more mature crookneck, you end up with some narrower rounds from the neck that look like zucchini with a frilled neck, as well as a lot of chopped up pieces from the more rotund body (seeds removed, though you can leave them in).
Chopping squash late in the evening is best done with a glass of something nice.
Earlier this season I did prepare a layered dish with rounds of (younger) crookneck squash and tomatoes, along with seasoning and some cheese. My husband loved it, but for me it was more of a taste of what could be. This is my first year growing this squash, and I also really had no experience of cooking with it previously. As it was a huge success in the garden, I figure I need to get to grips with how best to prepare it for eating. For me, this means a little more depth and nuance, so I turned to oven roasted tomatoes, which I first got into in a big way last summer.
I picked over the mountains of tomatoes on the island, ending up with a nice colander full of red, orange and yellow specimens. Chopped and thrown in to a bowl, I added roughly chopped white onion, several crushed cloves of garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, basil and some olive oil. Roasted for about 40 minutes, that mix was then transferred to the Cuisinart and blended just long enough to make a simple sauce. This I poured over the squash sitting patiently in my casserole dish.
While this was in the oven, I was also simmering a chicken on the stovetop for stock; my youngest came with me today to the butcher’s, and chose the biggest chicken available and I couldn’t really say no. I figured I would be making chicken pot pie or some such, but my husband promises me that if I just leave the meat in the fridge he and the kids will enjoy eating it as-is. Sounds good to me.
The finished casserole was topped with grated cheddar, as simple seemed best. Time in the oven can be reduced by parboiling the squash first; otherwise, it’s a long bake when the squash is not very young.