By this point in the summer, I've used the old familiar ways of preparing fresh vegetables so many times that I'm leafing through my cookbook collection to see what I can find that sounds interesting. By August, I'll be daily trolling the online recipe sites for new ideas.
I'm just as picky about preparing veggies as I am growing them (or selecting them at the farmers' market). Not every good-sounding recipe works for me. Especially when I'm cooking a weeknight supper.
These are my criteria: The recipe can't call for exotic ingredients I'm not likely to have on hand. (Those I try on the weekends.) And they can't be baked in the oven.
The last condition is because I don't want to heat up the house by having the oven on for 30 minutes or more. I also see it as a money-saving and environmental issue. Since my house is air conditioned, turning on the oven makes the a/c work harder and longer. So I'd be using more energy to cook the vegetables by turning on the oven and by using more air conditioning.
One of the best books I've found over the years to help me find -- and concoct my own -- recipes for preparing vegetables is "The Victory Garden Cookbook," by Marian Morash. (It's no longer in print, but can sometimes be found at used book outlets.) I cannot imagine summer without it.
And my favorite recipe from this wonderful book is so simple that I don't really use the recipe any longer.
It's for summer squash. I use the yellow kind, because that's my favorite, but it's fine with zucchini, too.
All you do is:
Grate the squash into a collander. Sprinkle salt over.
Let it drain for 30 minutes. Gently squeeze the moisture from the squash.
Melt butter in a saucepan.
Add squash and saute (stirring) for about 3 minutes, until squash is tender.
I use about 1 medium squash and 1 tablespoon butter per serving, but usually prepare extra so I have leftovers to microwave at work the next day.
You can decrease (by about one-third) the amount of butter needed by using a nonstick pan sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray. Don't even think of using margarine (especially with yellow squash); the butter really elevates the flavor of this simple dish.
I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Hmmm. Guess what we're having for dinner tonight?