Okay, we’ve all heard the warnings. In summer squash season, do not leave the window of your parked car down or you will find a 20 lb zucchini on the passenger seat. And every year we (as do many others) suffer a memory lapse and plant — well, too many squash plants. (This applies only to summer squashes like zucchini, pattypan, and crookneck; winter squashes like butternut, buttercup, and acorn aren’t a problem because they can be stored and enjoyed over the course of months.) However, we have devised several strategies for dealing the the bounty that do not involve breaking and entering our neighbors’ vehicles.
The first strategy is the careful selection of summer squashes. Most varieties, like ordinary zucchini, become woody once they pass a certain size. The seeds get large and tough. You can cut around the seed area and use slabs for zucchini lasagna or brush with olive oil and slap them on the grill. But really, how much zucchini lasagna can you eat? We found a variety, romanesco zucchini, that stays tender (and small-seeded) even when it attains considerable size. It’s a delicious squash with a sweet, nutty flavor. Here’s what it looks like on the vine. This squash is about 18″ long.
What to do with such an edifice of squashness? Strategy Two of the squash abatement program is to chop it fairly small and freeze it for winter. No summer squash tolerates freezing well enough to eat plain, but the small cubes go beautifully in pasta sauces and soups. The first step is to wash and slice it. You can see why we call it “steampunk squash.” The seed cavity is really just a spongy central area, and the seeds are tender.
Typical instructions for home freezing call for blanching in a hot water bath, then plunging into ice water. Clearly, those folks have never heard of modern appliances. My short-cut is to microwave the cubes until they are just steaming but not cooked, then quickly seal them in freezer bags and pop them in the freezer. Here are pint-sized bags ready to go into the big chest freezer. The monster squash yielded 7 pints.