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Got squash?

By Penny Stine

What can you do when you discover a giant summer squash lurking underneath the leaves? Some people choose to throw them out or use them for target practice. Why do that when you can disguise them as chocolate cake or pizza, two of the essential food groups?
Or when you can combine them with tomatillos, jalapenos, onions, garlic, roasted chiles and corn and create a fiery mixed vegetable combo guaranteed to warm your tootsies in January?
Like other gardeners out there, my summer squash is growing to gigantic proportions this fall. Is it because we’re no longer excited about the garden and we don’t spend as much time out there trying to see what’s available? Are we too busy trying to cram in as much fun as possible into these last few weekends before the temperatures drop?
Before you let the kids practice their baseball swing or their swordplay with a zucchini, here’s a couple more ideas:

Zucchini or Pattypan pizza crust:
3 cups shredded summer squash
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
½ - 1 cup flour
½ C shredded parmesan or romano cheese

Shred the squash (I use a food processor, it’s quicker and you can easily do the skins, too.) Toss the squash in a colander & sprinkle with salt. Put a bowl underneath to catch the water – there should be quite a bit – and let it sit for 15 minutes. While the squash is draining, pre-heat the oven to 450. When you’re ready to make dough, give the squash one more squeeze to drain & add eggs, flour and shredded cheese. Mix it with a spoon or your hands; it will be a fairly wet dough.
Spray a pizza pan or cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and then dust with flour. This makes enough dough for one really big pizza or two small to medium pizzas. Pat the dough into the pan and try to spread it as thin as possible. Yes, it will be sticky and gooey. Do your best to spread it all the way to the edge of the pan.
Bake in a hot oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Now comes the tricky part… Flip the pizza dough over to brown the other side. You can try it with a spatula, but I’ve discovered the easiest way is to put a large cutting board (or other large, flat, sturdy surface) on top and then turn it over, dislodge the crust to get the whole thing on the cutting board, then slide it back onto the pan.
Bake the other side for 8 – 10 minutes. When it’s done, top it with pizza sauce and anything else you like on your pizza. Bake it at 350 for another 20 – 30. I made one the other day (but didn’t have a camera to take a photo) with a tomato-based sauce, along with mozzarella, cheddar, hamburger, onions and roasted green chiles. Delish.

Another option for giant squash…

Chocolate zucchini (or pattypan) bread

(makes 2 loaves)
2 C shredded summer squash

2C sugar
¼ C dark cocoa powder (you can use the regular cocoa powder, I just prefer the dark)
3 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix sugar and eggs. Gradually add oil and vanilla, then shredded squash. Sift dry ingredients together and then add to the squash mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into 2 greased & floured bread pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
I discovered that this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on the size of the monster squash. Bake it, let it cool completely and then wrap it in foil or put it in a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze it to enjoy in the winter. Or next week when you want something sweet. This bread is great because it tastes like chocolate cake, yet counts as a vegetable.

(Sorry, I don’t have pics for the pizza or the chocolate bread. Trust me, they look fab and taste even better.)

So… I made pattypan pizza. I’ve got two loaves of chocolate zucchini bread in the freezer and two more giant zucchini to turn into bread later this week. I still had monster pattypan and lots more tomatillos. So I combined the following and decided to can it, since I’ve been canning everything that sits on my counter longer than three days.

Late season veggie combo

Olive oil
1 giant onion, chopped
4 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large pattypan squash
1 giant bowlful of tomatillos (sorry, I didn’t count or measure, I just took a pic to show that some of the purple tomatillos are actually purple)

Look! Some of the purple tomatillos are actually purple!

4 – 6 jalapenos, chopped
4 – 10 green chiles, seeded, roasted and chopped
8 ears fresh corn (I added it just because I had it)

1 bunch chopped cilantro

salt, cumin powder


Pour some olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Add the onions and garlic & sauté until carmelized. Add the remaining ingredients. It’s OK if you chop as you go – by adding the tomatillos first and letting them cook, it gives you time to chop everything else.
Because this isn’t an approved recipe and so clearly has lots of non-acidic ingredients, I got out my pressure cooker. Processed with 15 pounds of pressure for 55 minutes.
It’s a bit on the spicy side. I anticipate serving it over rice or turning it into a base for soup and then adding cooked chicken or pork, more broth or cream and whatever else I have in the fridge and think sounds tasty.

I bought the corn at Rettig Farms on East Orchard Mesa. It was white corn, which didn't look as pretty in the jars combined with the white pattypan squash and the various green things (tomatillos, jalapenos and cilantro) that all faded to a dull Army green. But it's fairly tasty and would warm the cockles of my heart on a cold January evening, if only I knew what cockles were.  Seriously, I hope eating it in the depths of winter will remind me of warmer days and growing things. 


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