Enjoy summer squash
July 20, 2023—One of the best things about summer is also one of the healthiest: An abundance of fresh produce in your garden, at the grocery store and at the farmers market. In-season fruits and vegetables are not only pretty—they also supply many important nutrients. And they often don't require much effort to prepare.
Summer squash—such as zucchini, yellow crookneck, chayote or patty pan—is a star of the produce universe, versatile and full of flavor. It's high in vitamin C and fiber and low in calories. It has zero fat, cholesterol and sodium. Diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
How to select and store squash
Ready to load up on summer squash? Here's what to look for.
- Choose small- to medium-sized squash. These smaller vegetables are younger and will have more flavor.
- The squash should feel firm and heavy for its size.
- Avoid squash with nicks, bruises or soft spots.
If you aren't using it right away, you can store summer squash or zucchini in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days. Don't wash it until you are ready to eat it.
To freeze squash for later use, you should blanch it first. Bring a pot of water to a boil, submerge the vegetables for two to three minutes, then remove them. Plunge them into cold water, drain in a colander and let them cool before freezing them.
A versatile veggie
There are countless ways to enjoy summer squash. Its mild taste goes well with many herbs and spices, and it can be used in almost any type of cuisine. These ideas will help you get started.
- Sauté it and add to omelets, pasta dishes and casseroles.
- Stuff zucchini with seasoned meat or vegetables, sprinkle it with cheese, and bake.
- Slice it lengthwise and grill it.
- Purée it and add to spaghetti sauce.
- Grate it and use in baked goods like muffins or breads.
- Slice it thin and toss with a salad or dip into hummus.
Discover more ways to get the most benefit out of summer's bounty of produce.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Summer Squash: Stuff It, Bake It, Grill It." https://www.eatright.org/food/food-groups/vegetables/summer-squash-stuff-it-bake-it-grill-it.
- Produce for Better Health. "Can You Freeze Fresh Vegetables?" https://fruitsandveggies.org/expert-advice/can-freeze-fresh-vegetables.
- Produce for Better Health. "Crookneck Squash." https://fruitsandveggies.org/fruits-and-veggies/crookneck-squash-nutrition-selection-storage.
- Produce for Better Health. "Summer Squash." https://fruitsandveggies.org/fruits-and-veggies/summer-squash-nutrition-selection-storage.
- Produce for Better Health. "Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Zucchini." https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-zucchini.
- Produce for Better Health. "Zucchini." https://fruitsandveggies.org/fruits-and-veggies/summer-squash.