Squash might very well be one of my favorite vegetables. I’ve never heard a person say, “I don’t like squash.” There are so many varieties, saying you dislike squash is like saying you don’t like herbs. It’s hard to generalize. I’m not a huge fan of spaghetti squash. Perhaps it’s because I don’t quite “get it”. But shying away from that one variety isn’t going to put me off squash for life. In the summer, I love zucchini, bright yellow summer squash and all the mini variations that come with it. Winter warms me to butternut squash, acorn squash and pumpkin (yes, pumpkin is a squash too!). I put up both summer and winter varieties, shredded or chopped in the summer, pureed in the winter so I’m never without.
This simple meal has comforted me in both kitchens home and away. When my friend and I backpacked through Europe after college (wow, almost a decade ago…) it because a staple of our diet anytime we had access to a kitchen, whether it was the communal “kitchen” of a hostel or our own apartment for the week. It was a dish that made us feel normal. For a few moments, we weren’t dirty travelers living our of our backpacks for the next 10 weeks, having picnics of bread, fruit and cheese from the local Aldi and saving up for real restaurant dinners when we could (not that it wasn’t great!). But it was the moments when we had access to a kitchen that were magical. When we could pretend that we weren’t moving every few days, but grounded, just for a few days. We dined on pasta, salads, soups and occasionally some chicken or beef. The meals were always simple as we had a limited pantry to work with, but somehow the zucchini over pasta was always a favorite.
Cooking and eating during the summer and early fall is pure bliss. Almost every food imaginable is available. Sometimes we take it for granted, especially when it starts to get dark and cold and those harvest goodies are no longer seasonal. So one solution is to preserve the harvest, through canning, freezing and drying. I’ve canned a ton of things this year, and froze some goodies too.