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What To Do with That Whale in the Squash Patch

Summer squash and especially zucchini bear the brunt of many kitchen-garden jokes. I think Garrison Keillor defined a small town as a place where folks only lock their car doors during zucchini season, the implication being that unscrupulous neighbors might sneak a bagful of squash into the backseat. Certainly, summer squash produce bountifully. We search among the elephant-sized leaves for squash and eat up as many as we can find. Summer squash between 6″ – 8″ inches long are a delightful, quickly prepared side dish, easily stir-fried with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of rosemary.

But it doesn’t matter how carefully we search, we always miss a couple until they’ve grown as large as a whale. They are too big to slice up and stir fry, too tough to eat the skin… They’re fine for zucchini bread but, honestly, there’s a limit to how much of that stuff I can eat.

We have our friends Jenn and Suzanne to thank for this idea, a version of which they shared with us before they left for gainful employment in New York State.

Oven-fried Vegetable Sticks

Ingredients:

One Huge Zucchini or Yellow Squash
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup cornmeal
½ cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
½ paprika
¼ cayenne powder
Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 F. Spray baking sheet lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Peel squash, then cut in half and take out the seeds. Cut squash into sticks about 4 inches long and ½-1 inch wide, about the size of home fries.

3. Combine cornmeal, bread crumbs, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and cayenne powder in a pie pan or shallow bowl. Beat egg in a separate bowl.

4. Dip squash sticks in beaten egg and let excess drip off. Then roll stick in bread crumb mixture to coat. Place sticks on cooking sheet so that they are not touching.

5. Bake sticks in 425 F oven for about 20 minutes, turning sticks after 10 minutes.

Jenn and Suzanne served the vegetable sticks with Drew’s Smoked Tomato Dressing for dipping. We also like ranch dressing, onion dip, or ketchup. Seasonings can be added or deleted, according to what is preferred. Seasoned bread crumbs can be used in place of bread crumbs; adjust seasonings accordingly.

And if the squash is large enough that the seeds have become mature, they can be toasted and seasoned just as well as pumpkin seeds.

I prefer the tiny squash, the ones we catch in time, but this recipe really works for the ones that get away. How do you deal with the whales in your squash patch?

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