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Kentucky summer squash

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No Kentucky garden or local farmers market would be complete without summer squash. The most popular summer squashes are yellow squash and zucchini. They come in a wide array of vibrant yellows and vivid greens. Shoppers need to be savvy when shopping and cooking with summer squash.
Summer squash offers many easy, versatile options as main dishes and side dishes. Squash can be eaten baked, boiled, broiled, pan-fried, steamed and much more. With the different varieties of summer squash, they are interchangeable in most recipes because they are similar in texture and flavor. Squashes are low in calories, yet high in fiber and vitamin C. Summer squash is a healthy vegetable to add to your diet.  It is also low in cost June through mid-October. Buying Kentucky Proud is easy. Look for the label at your grocery store, farmers market or roadside stand and bring the freshest, locally grown produce home to your family. When shopping look for clean, blemish free, firm squashes with a bright, glossy exterior. Choose squashes that are fairly heavy for their size, otherwise they may be dry and cottony inside. As summer squashes age on the vine, they will development a tough dull skin. Look for young, small, tender squash. Also avoid buying squashes with nicks or those with bruises or soft spots.
There are several varieties of summer squash. Popular varieties include crookneck, and straight neck. There is also the common, green zucchini squash, an American favorite. Last but not least, patty pan has a somewhat flat surface with scallop edges and are green or yellow in color. Try a new summer squash and see what your family prefers.
Store summer squash in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Fresh summer squash should keep for up to a week, but is best when used within 2 to 3 days. Thicker-skinned varieties will stay fresh for 2 weeks or longer. Wash squashes right before using them. Gently scrub with a vegetable brush, under running water. There is no need to deseed or peel summer squash. Nutrients are lost if you peel squash.
Be squash savvy this summer and be adventurous with squash. Select a new variety of summer squash this summer. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, you can Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud with delicious recipes that put a new twist on your favorite Kentucky Proud foods.
Italian Chicken Summer Squash Skillet
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, finely diced
3 medium summer squash, sliced crosswise
1 cup whole grain rotini pasta, uncooked
1¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
Nonstick cooking spray
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slice squash into ¼ inch pieces. Combine all vegetables, with garlic in a bowl. Set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat to medium. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally.  Add vegetable mixture to the skillet. Add tomato sauce and dried Italian seasoning.  Stir well. Increase heat, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes or until summer squash is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir cooked pasta into chicken/vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese. Season as needed.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional Analysis:
200 calories, 4.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol,
300 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 20 g protein.
June 2014 Plate it up! Kentucky Proud Project County Extension Agents for Family and Consumer Sciences University of Kentucky, Dietetics and Human Nutrition students
For more delicious recipes and information using “Kentucky Proud” fruits and vegetables, contact the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Service or visit: www.kentuckyproud.com.
Sources:
www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov
• Publication - ID-128 Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky, College of
Agriculture.
http://www.kyproud.com/docs/AvailGuide.pdf
Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.