Get Ready for the Summer Squash Stampede

Gardeners with overflowing vegetable gardens are notoriously generous this time of year.

They are bound to ask you to share in their autumn bounty. Or, put another way, get in on the field booty.

Not that cultivators complain about a plentiful harvest. It's just that no one likes to see good food rot on the vine.

Short of getting creative with sports - softball with bat-size zucchini, or bowling with pumpkins - you might want to warm up the kitchen and test some new recipes.

Either that, or help take down the scarecrow.

CURRIED SUMMER SQUASH SOUP

4 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons garam masala (or 1/2 teaspoon each of powdered cardamom, allspice, coriander, and cumin

2 teaspoons curry powder

4 cups chicken broth

4 cups thinly sliced crookneck or other summer squash

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup toasted pistachios or almonds, chopped

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saut until golden. Stir in the garam masala (or spices) and curry powder; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the broth and squash and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until squash is tender. Allow it to cool somewhat. Transfer a third of the soup to a food processor or blender and pure until smooth. Repeat with the remaining soup. Reheat before serving.

Serve with dollops of sour cream; sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Serves 6.

- Recipes from 'Zucchini, Pumpkins & Squash,' by Kathleen Desmond Stang (Chronicle Books, $10.95)

CROOKNECK SQUASH FRITTATA FOR TWO

Serve this frittata for breakfast, brunch, or a simple dinner. Italians serve it at room temperature, but you may want to serve it hot. Garnish with cherry tomatoes or salsa if you like.

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped onion or sliced scallions

1/4 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 medium crookneck squash or zucchini, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped spinach or tender chard leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh basil or oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 large eggs, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water

2 to 3 tablespoons shredded Gruyre or Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms and saut for two minutes. Add the squash, spinach or chard, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper. Saut for about 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Pour in the eggs, cover and cook for about 2 minutes, or until eggs are almost set.

If you have a broilerproof skillet, sprinkle the frittata with cheese and broil until set. If not, position a plate over the skillet and turn over. Slide the frittata, cooked side up, back into the skillet and cook until set.

Sprinkle with cheese, cover, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes me, or until the cheese melts.

QUICK MEALS

An easy stir-fry that doesn't require endless chopping

of multiple ingredients

Stir-Fried Sea Scallops with Asparagus

1 pound sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil leaves

Place scallops, ginger, and half the soy sauce in large bowl; toss.

Heat peanut (or vegetable) oil in a large wok or nonstick frying pan until very hot. Add garlic and stir until it begins to brown. (Be careful that garlic does not burn or it will turn bitter.)

Remove garlic with slotted spoon; discard.

Add asparagus to wok. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside. Add sesame oil and scallops and cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Stir asparagus into scallops. When heated through, toss in basil.

Serve immediately over hot steamed white rice.

Serves 3 or 4.

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