Natural Foods Education  Jennette Turner

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Summer's Bounty: Zucchini, Summer Squash, Sunburst and Patty Pan Squashes

By Jennette Turner

"Zucchini and summer squash are kind of like the rabbits of the vegetable world: once they start reproducing, there’s no turning back." – Farmer John Peterson, Farmer John’s Cookbook

Imagine the scene: It’s a beautiful summer evening, and you’re eating fresh, local zucchini, sautéed in butter and lightly salted. It’s tender; you’ve cooked it long enough to evaporate some of it’s water and concentrate its subtle squash flavor. The creamy texture (enhanced by the butter) is both light and comforting at the same time. Ah. Summer.

Zucchini, summer squash (also called yellow crookneck, or gooseneck squash), sunburst and patty pan squashes are delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and versatile vegetables. They’re a good source of a variety of nutrients, including vitamin C, B vitamins (especially folate and riboflavin), magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, carotenoid anti-oxidants, and other disease-preventing phytochemicals. They also contain important dietary fiber, and have very few calories.

When shopping, look for zucchini and other summer squashes, that are heavy for their size, firm, and have shiny skin. Pick ones that are of average size; the largest ones are usually overly fibrous with hard seeds. Store them unwashed in plastic bags in the refrigerator; they should last at least a week that way.

You can use zucchini, summer squash, sunburst and patty pan squashes in main-dish stir-fries, steam them for a light side-dish, grate them raw in salads, and even add them to baked goods. They also provide a great texture for soups, especially when pureed. And they freeze well, too, so you can use them all year: lightly blanch or steam the sliced squash until just tender, then transfer to storage containers. When it’s January and you are enjoying local zucchini in your soup you can think back to summertime and relish the bounty!

Jennette’s South of the Border Scrambler

Vegetables for breakfast are a great way to start the day! Simply omit the cheese for a dairy-free meal.

1 medium sunburst or patty pan, diced
½ yellow onion. diced
8 eggs, beaten
2 T. butter OR olive oil
2-4 oz. Colby or Jack-style cheese, grated
OPTION: ½ c. frozen OR fresh sweet corn
OPTION: ½ green OR red bell pepper, diced

  1. Warm butter OR oil in a very large skillet. Add onions and a pinch of salt, and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until glistening and just tender.
  2. Add the sunburst or patty pan squash to the cooking onions. Continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes, until tender. If you are using sweet corn &/OR bell pepper, add them a couple minutes after the squash.
  3. Move the cooked vegetables to the outside edges of the pan. Add the beaten eggs to the center. Scramble.
  4. When the eggs are just about done, stir the vegetables into the eggs, add the cheese and cover the pan. Let it sit for a minute to melt the cheese. Serve with salsa.

Makes 4 servings

Grilled Summer Squash

Zucchini can be prepared for the grill in the same way. Try a combination of the two for a colorful side dish.

3-4 medium summer squash
olive oil

  1. Make sure your grill is medium-hot; test it by holding your hand about 5 inches over the grate. If you can only hold your hand there for a few seconds, it’s ready.
  2. Slice the summer squash lengthwise into ½ inch thick strips. Lightly brush each strip with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Place strips perpendicularly over the grate. Grill 8-10 minutes, turning once with tongs.

Makes 4 servings

Jennette turner is a Natural Foods Educator in Minneapolis. She Teaches public and private classes, and offers individual nutrition consultations. Jennette launced Dinner with Jennette (www.jennette-turner/,  to make it easier to incorporate natural foods into their diets.  She can be reached at / 612-374-6039.

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