Simple Summer: Julienned Squash with Spinach Basil Pesto
It takes me a month or two to really get into the groove of summer eating, but when it happens - watch out! I guess when you are tied to winter squash and heavier foods in the colder months it takes a little to time to shake that off. But my garden is bustling, the bees are working hard, the honey is flowing and I have more summer squash, tomatoes and fresh herbs than I know what to do with.
This time is all about fresh, creative, and super simple.
Some dishes need a strict recipe to follow, like in the case of my Zucchini Applesauce Bread. But in the summer I love nothing more than finding what is in my garden and getting creative.
What I had: zucchini and yellow squash (lots of it), onions, tomatoes, spinach and basil. What I made: Julienned Summer Squash and Tomatoes with a Spinach Basil Pesto. Here's how it went down:
See that Titan tool? That is the key to success when julienning summer squash. Unless you want to use a knife and sit around all day making individual slices, I highly recommend you run out to your nearest kitchen supply store and buy one of these tools. My husband bought this for me a few years ago and at the time I wondered why I couldn't just get some jewelry and not another kitchen item for my birthday. It is now priceless in my kitchen (he is always right!). Once sautéed, it makes the squash comparable to spaghetti (and it's gluten free!).
Once it sautés, it shrinks down considerably, so don't be intimidated by a big bowl of summer squash.
I then made the pesto. Now, I am calling this a pesto, but really what it is is using what I have on hand. If I didn't have spinach I could have used arugula, or simply used all basil. You could substitute the walnuts for pine nuts. I am a big fan of using pestos and healthy sauces to add big flavor to our food (because, after all, if we are eating well, let's make it taste great!). Pestos, so concentrated in nutrients, also freeze beautifully so make extra like I did and portion it into individual serving sizes for another dinner.
Into my Vitamix went a few bunches of spinach, a bunch of basil, some cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and some walnuts. Yum.
Now, to sauté and serve. On this night, I decided to simply pan sear some scallops with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. After they were done, I removed them from the pan and sautéd the summer squash with some red onions and tomatoes from my garden. My husband insisted on having brown rice with it because he can't wrap his head around the fact that squash may be a pasta type substitute. I get it.
The result was nothing short of fantastic. A perfect, easy summer meal for the dog days of summer.
Julienned Summer Squash with Spinach Basil Pesto
1 small red onion, sliced
2-3 large yellow squash or zucchini, julienned
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 large bunches of baby spinach
1 large bunch of basil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the red onion and sauté for 3 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown.
- Add the squash and sauté for another 5-7 minutes, until it begins to wilt and soften.
- Add the tomatoes with salt and pepper and continue to sauté until softened, about 5 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pesto: Add all the ingredients into a Vitamix or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. You may need to stop the food processor and scrape down the sides.
Copyright© Heather Carey, MS 2014
Heather Carey, M.S.