It's no secret to everyone that I'm trying to feed my family as much as possible with local and seasonal produce. Watching and learning about local foods is my thing. Going on Saturday morning to the farmers market, is just something we love to do. The boys delight in walking around, playing with the animals, listening to music and in helping me with shopping. They love to eat fresh produce right away (unwashed). Since I moved to the area, the market has grown quite a bit. It seems like the place to go on Saturday morning, since there is not much going on in our small town. Our slow motion atmosphere is most relaxing to the soul. Everyone seems to have a good time either doing weekly shopping like us or enjoying a cup of locally roasted coffee, listening to music, and others having a bite of breakfast or lunch.
What is harvested first as summer veggies in the LowCountry?
As far as produce goes, early summer always means the harvesting of strawberries, cucumbers, onions, and squash. Not zucchini, but summer squash and lots of it. I love to talk to locals about how they prepare squash. Comparing how my mom prepared the same vegetable to how the locals do here is quite interesting. It's amazing how from generation to generation recipes are passed down and how different they vary with the same vegetables but on different sides of the world. I think the most loved type of zucchini where I'm from is Caserta, belonging to an heirloom zucchini family and having light greenish color and delicate taste with a second favorite being Pattypan. I immediately think about what my mom would do with them and only three things come to my mind: breaded, shredded formed into patties and then pan fried and don't forget to add a pickle. That's it!!!
By the way Gluten-Free Cheesy Zucchini Fritters are my way to make those patties. Please, check out this recipe, which is big in flavor. It is easy to make using staple ingredients that you always have on hand.
In our town, we continue to have people moving here from the North. Growing the produce they are used to having is becoming commonplace with our local farmers due to the demand. However, when it comes to food, I embrace the old fashioned way and prefer to select only foods that are truly local and what the locals grew up planting and consuming.
Today I'm sharing with you the traditional southern way of cooking summer squash. My boys love them this way! Every traditional cook in the South starts with a high-sided well seasoned cast iron pan, the largest one in her repertoire, bacon grease stockpiled from previous breakfasts, a pile of sliced squash and sweet onions so tall it barely fits in the pan. Next the veggies (at this point unmanageable) receive a hit of salt and pepper. Then, using gentle heat combined with stirring which allows time for the vegetables to shrink, with this process possibly taking over an hour. The cooking is complete when the aroma of toasted onions fills the air with the squash achieving a rich golden color and thus creating the right consistency of texture, color and flavor.
This recipe is very easy requiring only one skillet and is a simple prepared dish that allows each vegetable to taste of their wonderful selves. Super flavorful, this dish takes almost no time with very few ingredients. Besides squash, onions, and bacon grease, in my recipe, I add white wine, fresh thyme, and garlic. The flavor is delicate and perfectly pairs with pretty much any grilled or roasted meat or fish. I love to make it on a weeknight. This versatile dish is excellent for serving hot or at room temperature making it a great choice to bring to your next potluck party. It is beautifully delicious as a side dish or condiment, and I personally love to smear it on a piece of crusty bread when I build a sandwich.
What Ingredients are needed?
Summer squash - or pattypan
Bacon grease - probably leftover after breakfast or olive oil
Sweet onion - is ideal, but regular will do
Garlic - a few cloves, or fresh wild garlic chopped, 1 cup
Fresh thyme - dry will do too
White wine - the one you enjoy drinking
Why is eating squash good for you?
Based on Dr. Ax, summer squash has anti-inflammatory properties that can improve heart health. Summer squash and other squashes are largely made of water and carbohydrates, specifically the type called polysaccharides. Summer squash includes a good percentage of the fiber called pectin, which is a type of beneficial polysaccharide that is linked to improved cardiovascular health and the ability to lower your cholesterol naturally.
Note on Southern cooking methods
So when I first moved to the South, I couldn't understand why food was cooked as well done. Pork, beef, roast, collards, and summer veggies were overcooked in my opinion But after living here for a while, I became slightly accustomed to some of these recipes.
The dish that I'm sharing with you today is a perfect example of one of these "overdone" vegetable entrees and I love it. Why? It is because this recipe can be served as a side or a condiment. This dish is not mushy or squeaky and has nice texture.
For this recipe, the answer is, yes: please do use the bacon grease. Skipping on baking with fat, unless you are vegetarian, is not a good idea!!! I hope you give it a try soon...
Let's do it...
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Serves: 4 generous portions
2 lb. summer squash, chopped (in the video I used a combination of summer squash and pattypan)
1 sweet or regular onion, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup of bacon grease (you can use olive oil)
Crusty bread for serving
First place the cast iron pan on medium heat and let it get hot with the bacon grease, add onion, salt and black pepper to taste. Lower the heat and let it cook for 7-10 minutes, stir occasionally, letting it become a nice deep brown color.
3. Add minced garlic and stir. Add wine and bring heat up to medium; let it cook for 5 minutes.
4. Reduce heat, continue cooking and stirring once a while for another 5 minutes or until the squash is a nice golden brown color. When it appears to look overdone, that's exactly what you are looking for and your squash dish is complete!
Serve and enjoy!
P.S. Few more pictures with my little helper.