Zucchini and yellow squash tacos with mushrooms not only give you an easy and delicious way to use up your bounty of squash, they’re quick and filling!
When did we become adults? I blinked and missed it (note: that blink happened a long time ago…I’ve been an adult for a lot longer than I’d like to admit). While Philip and I were having dinner at Two Ten Jack with our friend Brian, with whom we’ve been friends since we were teenagers (over twenty years, in fact), I realized how much our conversations have changed. Of course, my earliest conversations with Brian were mostly work-related (we were all Chuck E. Cheese’s co-workers back in the mid-nineties) but then after Philip and I started dating when I was in my early twenties and we would hang out with Brian our conversations were generally about music: what shows we’d been to, what CDs we’d bought, etc.
Our conversations that night were about a variety of things: politics, work, craft beer (a love Philip and Brian share), and food issues. Brian chooses to eat a mostly vegetarian diet, and as we were discussing the many reasons that he does so I laughed in my head thinking about how we were the old people I would have made fun of twenty years ago. Why so serious? It’s just food.
There’s no such thing as “just food” any more. Food = life for me in so many ways. I have been pretty open here about the fact that I have gained a few pounds over the last few years, due to a variety of factors. Blogging is, I’m certain, one of them. Moving into a more sedentary job is another, and, as much as I’d like to deny it, my doctor says that age is a factor as well. Age must be the reason that appearance is no longer the sole reason that I’m concerned about my weight (though I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a concern). Health is my major concern, and I’ve been trying to weight my food choices more toward health than decadence (because food doesn’t have to be decadent to taste good). Sorry if my blog doesn’t always reflect that, though I promise I’m trying.
Recipe development in the summer definitely lends itself to promoting healthy cooking. I don’t take the omission approach to healthy cooking. I believe that you should eat the things that you want to eat in moderation and concentrate on making it mostly about the healthiest foods that you love. Luckily, I love fruits and vegetables, so June, July, and August are more or less an eater’s paradise for me.
A trip to the produce stand last week resulted in an excess of zucchini and yellow squash, so in my haste to find a way to use them all up I decided to cook up some squash tacos. Onions and mushrooms seem at home in squash tacos, don’t they? In my house, onions and mushrooms are at home in pretty much anything, but that’s just us. Soft corn tortillas, onions cooked till they’re on the verge of caramelization, zucchini, yellow squash, smoked cheddar cheese (or whatever you’ve got, but smoked cheddar works so well here), and a drizzle of sour cream and Sriracha. That’s what I call squash taco perfection.
If you have some extra zucchini and yellow squash to use up, why not make these zucchini and yellow squash tacos?
Yield: 8 tacos
25 minTotal Time:
- 1 medium yellow squash, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium zucchini, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided (if using table salt, use half the amount indicated here)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 8-16 corn tortillas (we like to double up and use two tortillas per taco)
- for serving: cheese (smoked cheddar is great here, but Monterey jack, queso fresco, or regular Cheddar are fine too), sour cream, Sriracha, avocado, lime wedges, cilantro
- Place the cut zucchini and yellow squash on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and let stand while you prepare the onions and mushrooms.
- In a medium pan, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.
- Press the top of the squash with more paper towels to remove excess liquid. Add the squash to the pan with the onions and mushrooms and cook until tender and beginning to brown, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat the tortillas according to package directions. Fill with the vegetables and top as desired. Serve immediately.
By the way, the taco holders featured in the pictures are seriously life-changing and very inexpensive. I have included an affiliate link for them below. This means that if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the cost to you. For more information, please see my disclosures. Thank you for supporting my blog!
Beer battered zucchini and yellow squash is my shout-out to the beer-battered okra at Café on the Corner. It’s an update on a Southern classic!
Fried squash is about as classic as it gets for a June side dish, at least here in Tennessee. Just about any Sunday your can catch some member of my family getting their hand slapped by my mom as they steal a round of cornmeal-coated yellow squash from a paper-towel lined bowl by her stove, as she laments that there won’t be enough for dinner if we don’t stop (there always is, because like all Southern mama she always makes too much). I mean, what better way to combat the onslaught of squash coming from everyone’s gardens or from the local produce stand than to dip it in cornmeal and fry it? That’s right, there is no better way.
I always wondered why zucchini never got as much cornmeal-crusted cast-iron skillet love as yellow crookneck squash. It works just as well (and people love it just as much…oven-fried zucchini was my first viral recipe here on Chattavore). I’m proud to be an equal-opportunity squash fryer. I can never, never, ever get my fried squash to taste like my mom’s, though. The coating falls off, or the edges burn, or the squash comes out pallid. She just has more squash-frying experience than me is the problem, I suppose. Some day I’ll measure up.
Recently we dined at Café on the Corner on Lookout Mountain and Philip and I were both instantly drawn to the beer battered fried okra on the menu. It was every bit as good as it sounded, and I decided then and there that beer battering vegetables would be my claim to fame. Everyone will say, “I try and try, but my beer battered zucchini is never as good as Mary’s.” A girl can dream, right?
So…beer battered zucchini and yellow squash. I did both because, as I mentioned above, I’m all about treating my vegetables equally. And also because I bought a bunch of both and needed to use them up before they got goopy in my produce drawer. Whatever you have will work – beer battered zucchini, beer battered yellow squash, both. Beer battered okra, of course. Beer battered fried green tomatoes? Yes, I think I’m on to something here.
I’ve upped my beer battering came here lately, since I read Kenji Lopez-Alt‘s book The Food Lab. The beer batter recipe here is from that book, which I highly recommend that you buy if you want to cook anything well ever. It is honestly the best cookbook I’ve ever spent money on, and that is coming from a woman who currently owns over 115 cookbooks (yes, I counted). I’ve included Amazon affiliate links for this and my Lodge cast iron pan (this means that if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect the cost to you. I appreciate any support you want to give my blog! For more information, please see my disclosures.).
Try my beer battered zucchini & yellow squash and tell me how you think it compares to traditional cornmeal coated fried squash!
Yield: 6 servings
The beer batter recipe was adapted VERY slightly from the book The Food Lab by Kenji Lopez-Alt.
15 minPrep Time:
15 minCook Time:
30 minTotal Time:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup light-flavored beer, cold (I used Lagunitas Pilsner because I am forbidden from purchasing mass-produced domestic beers)
- 3/4 cup vodka
- 1 cup vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 pound zucchini and/or yellow squash, cleaned and sliced into rounds
- Make the beer batter: combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl then whisk in the beer and vodka.
- Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat.
- Place the 1/2 cup of flour in a bowl. Toss the squash pieces into the flour then dip them into the beer batter (I dropped about 10 pieces into the batter then turned them to coat with tongs). Allow the excess to drain off then fry in a single layer, turning to brown both sides (this took about 2 minutes per side). I was able to fry about 10 pieces at a time. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all squash has been fried.
- Serve the squash immediately while hot.
Chop chop salad with creamy kalamata dressing is my version of the house salad from Crust Pizza, one of my very favorite restaurant salads.
Chopped salads were a big trend a few years ago. Honestly, I can’t really tell you what sets “chopped” salads apart from “regular salads, because essentially all of the salads that I make are chopped salads. I guess the word “chopped” just refers to having a bunch of ingredients in addition to whatever green you are using that are chopped up with a knife. Am I right or am I wrong? Someone help me here.
I remember when I was a teenager reading somewhere that you shouldn’t use a knife to chop lettuce because it would cause the cut edges to turn brown. While that’s true (it has something to do with how the cutting action damages the cells of the lettuce), unless you are going to serve the lettuce a few days later and/or you are really concerned about a little bit of browning, who cares? Personally, I am not down to tear up a huge pile of lettuce. I have better things to do with my time, and I imagine that you guys do too. I’ll use my knife, thank you.
One of my favorite pizza places in town is Crust Pizza (home of the cracker-thin crust…I thought I loved Pizza Hut’s thin crust the best until I ate at Crust). When you go there for their lunch buffet, you get a salad to go with your pizza. Their house salad is one of the best chopped salads I’ve ever eaten, with iceberg lettuce, romaine, spinach, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, red onion (you guys know I pick that out), garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, and mozzarella cheese. I always order mine with their creamy kalamata dressing, which I liked long before I had my olive awakening last year. I guess it helped to ease me in. That salad…that salad is art. For a house salad, it’s pretty huge and served in a cute stainless steel bowl (unfortunately I don’t have one that size).
My chop chop salad is my ode to that amazing salad. I tossed together all of the ingredients except, of course, the onions, and the mushrooms because Philip didn’t realize that cremini mushrooms are the same as baby bellas (that’s my fault because I thought about that and forgot to tell him that they were the same thing…I couldn’t remember how Publix labels their creminis. They label them as baby bellas. Oops. I threw in some kalamata olives on top too, because why not?
To top my chop chop salad, I of course whizzed up a creamy kalamata dressing. All of the recipes I found when I was researching kalamata dressing online were vinaigrettes and I WANTED A CREAMY DRESSING, so I had to make this up on my own. It worked out. I am now officially obsessed with this salad and I want to eat it every day. And this past week, that’s just what I did for lunch.
Make this chop chop salad for lunch or dinner this week!
Yield: 4 salads
30 minPrep Time:
30 minTotal Time:
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I like full-fat yogurt)
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- 4 cups chopped iceberg lettuce (about 1/3 of a head)
- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce (about 1 heart of romaine)
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 4 ounces salami, chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 14.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 8-ounce package cremini mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (freezing the mozzarella for about 30 minutes before shredding makes this much easier)
- In a food processor, process the Greek yogurt, kalamata olives, white wine vinegar, oregano, and sugar on high until mostly smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add the olive oil slowly through the pour spout with the machine running. Salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Toss the greens together in a large bowl. Divide between 4 salad bowls or plates. Divide the remaining ingredients among the plates. Drizzle each salad with 2 tablespoons of kalamata dressing. Serve immediately.
Is there anything better than a crispy potato? I don’t think so. These oven-roasted, crispy smashed red potatoes will make you smile!
I have spent the better part of the last fifteen years trying to perfect a perfect oven-roasted potato. Not a fry, mind you. I got the hang of that one long ago. No, I’m talking about roasted potatoes in non-fry form. I’ve made a lot of them over the years, most of them roasted under a chicken. I’ll admit, nothing quite lends the flavor to a roasted potato that chicken fat does. However, just sticking the potatoes under the chicken and giving them a few stirs along the way is not the way to get the most divinely crispy potatoes that you could hope for.
Of course, the piece that I was missing was right there in my baked fries recipe…parboiling. If you boil some of the moisture out of the fries before you roast them, they’ll crisp up significantly more than if you don’t This is similar to the double-frying method that is used for most of the good fries that you eat in restaurants, but without all the popping oil that you have to either trash or somehow store. I am really not a fan of dealing with large amounts of oil unless I’m going to get some fried chicken on the other side.
So anyway, I mentioned The Food Lab by Kenji Lopez-Alt a while back. I’m a little obsessed with his book (I read it all in its almost 1000-page glory) and Kenji may have replaced Alton as my food science icon (gasp!). Kenji fries his smashed red potatoes (which I tried…I’ll admit it was amazing, but very time-consuming) but before he fries them, he boils them for a good long while (20 minutes). Reading that was my face-palm moment. I’ve been making great parboiled crispy baked fries for years, and somehow I missed the boat on the perfect crispy oven-roasted potato recipe. It’s okay, though. I finally got there.
I knew that I wanted to serve my crispy smashed red potatoes with some great sauce (for dipping or drizzling, depending on whether you want to eat your potatoes with your fingers or a fork). I had some feta cheese left over from a tabbouleh recipe that I made for WHISK Magazine and decided to stir it into some sour cream to make feta crema. Sprinkled with just a little parsley, this side dish is easy and fun or tasty and sophisticated, whatever you want it to be. Either way, these crispy oven-roasted potatoes are an easy and delicious side dish or even a great snack!
What’s your favorite way to cook potatoes? Comment below and let me know!
Yield: 4-6 servings
10 minPrep Time:
1 hrCook Time:
1 hr, 10 Total Time:
- 2 pounds tiny red or yellow potatoes, washed
- 1/4 cup lard, vegetable oil, or duck fat
- parsley, for sprinkling (optional)
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons milk
- To make the crema, stir together the sour cream, crumbled feta, and milk. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water heavily (I used 1/4 cup kosher salt) and add the potatoes.
- Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes and drain. Place your fat of choice on a baking sheet and place in the oven to preheat.
- While the fat is preheating, smash the potatoes to 1/2-inch thickness using a heavy skillet or the bottom of a glass.
- Place the potatoes on the preheated baking sheet. Brush the tops of the potatoes with some of the oil from the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the potatoes and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove the potatoes to a plate, sprinkle with parsley if desired, and serve immediately with the feta crema.