My favorite yellow squash recipes

Yellow squash harvest

Yellow squash harvest

This year I planted my first vegetable garden in many years. My motivations were to save money on food and be able to eat nutritious organic vegetables within minutes of harvesting. One of my choices was yellow squash because it’s low carb, easy to grow and has lots of vitamins.

I was so excited watching the little sprouts rise out of the ground and couldn’t wait for my babies to start bearing fruit. I resolved to keep on top of the situation by picking the squash while they were still quite small.

Every day I got such satisfaction watering the plants and charting their progress: the first leaf, the first blossom, the first tiny squash developing. I longed for the day when I could start harvesting.

Well that day finally came and nearly every day afterward I’d pick four or five little squash and sauté them up for my dinner. Things were under control. I got this, I thought.

Then the inevitable happened. Not content to stay neatly in their little plot, virtually overnight my babies had grown into monsters, seemingly bent on world domination. They began choking out my other vegetables, spilling out of the garden and marauding across the sidewalk.

And with it came squash. Lots and lots of squash. I gave away as much as I could but was still left with a small mountain. By this time I was ready to find some new recipes for all that squash, and here are my favorites—roasted yellow squash and jalapeño soup, tamale squash pie casserole, and pepperoni pizza squash.

Roasted yellow squash jalapeño soup

Roasted yellow squash jalapeno soup

Roasted yellow squash jalapeno soup

Ingredients

1½ lb yellow squash, cut into ½” slices
3 jalapeños
1 chopped onion
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
1T ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1½ cans of chicken broth
4 to 6 oz half and half
olive oil
salt and pepper
sour cream and chives to garnish

Instructions

Place the squash, jalapeños, onion and garlic and in roasting pan. Drizzle with olive and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 425° for 30 to 45 minutes, until they look like this.

yellow squash jalapeno soup2

Roasted squash, jalapenos, garlic and onions

Peel the skin off the jalapeños. You can also scrape out the seeds if desired. Put all the vegetables in a saucepan with cumin, oregano and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Purée the vegetables with an immersion blender. Add the half and half. Turn the heat back on until soup starts to bubble.

Pureed yellow squash jalapeno soup

Pureed yellow squash jalapeno soup

Serve with a little sour cream on top and a sprinkling of chives.

Spicy yellow squash jalapeno soup topped with sour cream and chives

Spicy yellow squash jalapeno soup topped with sour cream and chives

Tamale squash pie casserole

For this recipe I used squash instead of corn and it came out great! This tamale pie is a little bit spicy and very cheesy.

A slice of tamale squash pie

A slice of tamale squash pie

Ingredients

1 lb hamburger
1 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
black pepper
1 to 2T chili powder
1 lb yellow squash, sliced
1 7-oz can green chilis
1 lg can olives, sliced
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp cayenne pepper
olive oil
grated cheese

For the corn meal topping:

¾ cup corn meal
2 cups water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chili powder
1T butter
grated cheese

Ingredients for tamale squash pie

Ingredients for tamale squash pie

About a pound of squash for tamale pie casserole

About a pound of squash for tamale pie casserole

Instructions

Cook the onions in a large skillet with olive oil. When they start to brown add the hamburger, garlic, salt and pepper. I also threw in a few jalapeños for good measure.

Browning the meat, onions and garlic with a few jalapenos

Browning the meat, onions and garlic with a few jalapenos

When the hamburger is cooked, add the chili powder and cook for about a minute. Then add the squash, green chilis, olives, tomato sauce, sugar and cayenne pepper.

Vegetables added to browned meat

Vegetables added to browned meat

Simmer for 25 minutes then stir in a generous amount of grated cheese.

Adding grated cheese to tamale squash pie

Adding grated cheese to tamale squash pie

Ten or 15 minutes before the meat mixture is done, start cooking the corn meal in a pot with water, salt and chili powder. Stir constantly until it starts to thicken up. At that point add butter.

(I actually used organic polenta because I couldn’t find organic corn meal. The polenta is a coarser grind than corn meal and has more texture. Why organic? Because it’s non GMO.)

Adding butter to cooked corn meal

Adding butter to cooked corn meal

Add even more cheese.

Putting cheese into cooked corn meal

Putting cheese into cooked corn meal

Spread the corn meal over the meat.

Note: If you’re not using an oven-proof skillet, you’ll need to transfer the meat into a buttered casserole dish.

Cooked corn meal goes on top of meat mixture

Cooked corn meal goes on top of meat mixture

Top with—yes—more cheese. I probably use about 8 oz of cheese altogether.

Cheese goes on top of the corn meal

Cheese goes on top of the corn meal

Pop the casserole in the oven at 375° for 40 minutes. This is what it looks like when it’s done. Saucy with a thin crunchy shell on top from the melted cheese.

Tamale squash pie casserole

Tamale squash pie casserole

Let it cool for a little bit before serving.

A serving of tamale squash pie casserole

A serving of tamale squash pie casserole

Pepperoni pizza squash

This is by far my favorite recipe with all the flavor of pizza and none of the carbs. It’s so good I don’t even miss the crust, and the quickest to put together of the three recipes. The amounts are left off because you can make as little or as much as you want.

Pepperoni pizza squash

Pepperoni pizza squash

Ingredients

yellow squash cut into slices
marinara sauce (my favorite one is Bertoli Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic)
quattro formaggio grated cheese
pepperoni slices
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves (optional garnish)

quattro formaggio and pepperoni

Quattro formaggio and pepperoni

Instructions

Sauté the squash in a frying pan with olive oil, salt and pepper until browned.

Sauteed yellow squash

Sauteed yellow squash

Transfer to a baking dish to cover the bottom in one layer.

First layer: squash

First layer: squash

Put enough marinara sauce on top to cover the squash.

Second layer: marinara sauce

Second layer: marinara sauce

Then sprinkle with cheese.

Third layer: cheese

Third layer: cheese

Top with pepperoni.

Fourth layer: pepperoni

Fourth layer: pepperoni

Bake in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Baked pepperoni pizza squash

Baked pepperoni pizza squash

Garnish with basil leaves torn into pieces if desired.

I’m eating this whole thing!

The perfect bite

The perfect bite

Heaven!

Too easy spicy baked chicken

spicy smoky baked chickenI always keep a bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs on hand for those times when I don’t feel like cooking something elaborate. Today is one of those days when I want something tasty without dirtying up a pan. This dish goes from freezer to plate in an hour.

I just put a piece of foil over the toaster oven baking sheet, throw two pieces of frozen chicken on top, and season. The real magic is in the seasoning, and this is my latest favorite combination of flavors.

hot sauce, sea salt, smoked paprika, ground cumin

Hot sauce, sea salt, smoked paprika, ground cumin

Directly on top of the frozen chicken I squirt some Tapatío hot sauce followed by sea salt, smoked paprika and ground cumin. In the toaster oven it goes, 350 degrees for one hour.

Frozen seasoned chicken thighs on foil

Frozen seasoned chicken thighs on foil

One hour later, cooked spicy smoky chicken

One hour later, cooked spicy smoky chicken

The hot sauce is tangy and the paprika is sweet and smoky, kind of like a barbecued potato chip. Altogether, it’s really good.

Sweet potatoes with garam masala

Sweet potatoes with garam masala

To go with it I’ve got some leftover sweet potato. I microwaved it, topped it with butter, salt and garam masala. It tastes a little like pumpkin pie and for some reason I’m really liking it with the chicken.

Here’s the completed dish

I poured some of the juice over the chicken. Yum-my!

Baked spicy chicken with sweet potatoes

Baked spicy chicken with sweet potatoes

You should give this recipe a try when you want something fast and fuss-free.

 

Baked chicken with homemade pesto

pesto chicken with spaghetti and broccoli

Here’s a really simple recipe with just two main components, chicken and pesto.

I’m always looking for ways to use the abundant basil growing in my yard. My favorite thing is to make homemade pesto. And I discovered it’s really delicious on baked chicken.

A generous coating of pesto seems to insulate the chicken and makes it come out extra juicy and flavorful. Even after baking, the pesto retains its fresh basil taste.

Spaghetti and pan roasted broccoli florets complete the meal.

Homemade pesto recipe

Ingredients for pesto

ingredients for homemade pesto

A few simple ingredients make an aromatic pesto:

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 cups tightly packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese that you grate yourself
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put pine nuts in the blender

pine nuts in blender for pesto

Add fresh basil

basil in blender for pesto

Consider growing your own basil. It can be kept in a pot indoors or planted in your garden. Either way, it’s very easy to grow. I love being able to go to my garden any time I want to pick fresh basil!

Pour in the olive oil

adding olive oil to basil for pesto

Invest in a good quality extra virgin olive oil. As you can see from the first picture above, I buy Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Costco. It’s very reasonably priced and has an intense olive taste. And unlike many olive oil brands out there, it’s been proven to be 100 percent pure extra virgin olive oil.

Next comes the garlic

chopped garlic in blender for pesto

Okay, I cheated here a little bit and used chopped garlic in a jar.

Grated parmesan cheese

parmesan cheese in blender for pesto

I recommend buying chunks of parmesan cheese and grating it yourself. I grate mine, put it in plastic bags and store it in the freezer.

And finally, salt and pepper

parmesan cheese in blender for pesto

I use either kosher salt or sea salt.

Blend everything together

blending pesto

This takes a minute or two. You may have to stop a couple of times and push the basil down.

The final product

fresh homemade pesto in blender

Look at that gorgeous color!

Now grease a baking dish with olive oil

grease pan with olive oil

Place the chicken thighs in the pan

raw chicken in baking dish

Put salt and pepper on both sides. I like using chicken thighs because they tend to stay moist even if you bake them for a long time.

Coat the chicken generously with pesto

chicken coated with pesto before baking

You may not need to use all of the pesto. If you have any left over, it’s great on eggs, sandwiches and salads.

Place the chicken thighs into an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake for about 90 minutes. Chicken is done when the juices run clear.

The chicken is ready

baked chicken pesto

Dinner is served

pesto chicken, spaghetti and broccoli

To finish the plate I added whole wheat spaghetti and pan roasted broccoli, with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. I put some of the pan juices over the spaghetti and chicken.

Simple, tasty and healthy. What more could you ask for?

pesto chicken with spaghetti and broccoli