Alright. Squash gets a bad rap.
Admittedly, it doesn’t have the most appealing name. Squash. The beauty of the English language uses the same exact word for this nutritious summer time vegetable as it does for a) the act of smushing something and b) a less fun version of tennis (okay, it’s kinda fun.)
Now I’m guilty of squash-shaming myself. My favorite kitchen tool at the moment is my spiralizer. While there are some higher-end models out there (such as the Paderno), I use this funky As-Seen-On-TV product called the Veggetti. It gets the job done, and you can buy it at Walgreens/Publix etc. but after posting this link, I just realized you can get it on Amazon for less than 10 bucks! The Paderno goes for up to $50!
However, when using said spiralizer, I typically stick to zucchini. Most spiralized recipes I find use zucchini as well. It works as a great vehicle for thicker sauces, but also can easily soak up light broths and vinaigrettes. But zucchini is in the squash family, and my local farmer’s market was carrying yellow summer squash instead, so I decided to experiment with it. I had also picked up some hot banana peppers from the farmer’s market the week before, and needed to use them before they went bad. What resulted was a completely spontaneous recipe, and it was absolutely delicious- plus it looked really cool. See?
The squash stood up to the task. Spiralizing the squashes (with essentially built-in handles) was a breeze, in fact it was easier than most zucchini attempts. Plus the yellow-white color looked even more like traditional noodles than its green cousin. I used two medium size squashes (is this the correct plural term?) which btw- Nutrition Fact! has over 100% Daily Value for Vitamin C (plus good amounts of Potassium and B-6!) It’s also got about 60 calories. Much, much better than that processed white penne.
Now comes the other ingredients: I had some leftover grilled chicken in the fridge that I tossed on the skillet to warm (I am microwave-less at the moment, which kind of stinks for a girl that loves popcorn as much as I do.) I mentioned the hot peppers above, but I honestly cannot tell y’all how wonderful my kitchen smelled while I roasted those peppers in the oven. Plus a Pesto sauce that I whipped up pretty quickly, without realizing I had no pine nuts. This happens to me roughly 50% of the time I decide to make pesto. I have a medium-size basil plant at my place, and at any given point you are likely to find garlic, EVOO, lemon, and cheese there as well. I hope your kitchen is the same way. That leaves pesto sans pine nuts, but I decided to just leave it at that. It made for a thinner sauce, but I enjoyed really tasting the medley of vegetables without a thick layer of pesto on top anyway. I also add about one part spinach to every 2-3 parts basil. Mostly because I try to be conservative with what I take off my basil plant, and I usually have spinach around that’s about to go bad- doesn’t it always?!
As you can probably tell by now, this was a very “game-time-decision” type of meal, but I find that I have some amazing culinary breakthroughs in times such as these. While I encourage you to test this recipe out for yourself, feel free to make changes- such as creating a vegetarian/vegan dish by opting out of the chicken and cheese. Or using roasted bell peppers instead of hot peppers if you’re not too into the heat. If you don’t have a spiralizer don’t worry! There are a few other ways of making veggie “noodles”, but I’ve found that my second favorite way is to simply peel big ribbons off of the vegetable using a standard peeler. This makes for more of a fettuccine type noodle, if you’re into that sort of thing- and frankly who isn’t?
Best of luck and have fun experimenting!
Ingredients: (Serves 2)- Above picture was just for me 🙂
- 4 medium-sized summer squashes (can be any variety. Yellow squash, zucchini, etc. even a hybrid of the two!)
- 2 chicken breasts
- 6 medium-sized hot peppers (if using bell peppers, just use two or three)
- 1/2 cup onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup pesto (can use already-prepared, or make from scratch as outlined below)
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup parsley, for garnish
- Salt & pepper
- Spiralize the squash. Wash & dry thoroughly, then spiralize. This changes depending on your type of spiralizer, but for my hand-held one, I just stick the veggie in and start turning in a clockwise motion. Once it’s all turned into medium-sized curly ribbons, I like to lay mine out over a pan with a paper towel and sprinkle immediately with salt. This helps to cut down on the water-content, but you can spiralize directly into a hot pan and it still tastes great. All about preference.
- Roast the peppers: Wash and dry peppers then lay onto a sheet or broiler and pop into the top rack of a super hot oven. (450 F +) Turn every few minutes or so to ensure the whole pepper is roasted. Once roasted to preference, cut open peppers and remove the core and seeds. Roughly chop, and then set aside.
- Dice the chicken, toss with oil, and season with salt, pepper, and whatever spices you prefer. I like to use lots of black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning.
- Make the pesto: as mentioned before. When making pesto, I usually am missing one or more ingredients. As such, my “pesto” is this: I fill the cup of my 1 cup food processor almost full with basil, then throw in about 2 gloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, copious amounts of salt and pepper, and a handful of pine nuts (if available) into a food processor while pouring in olive oil from the top. Rough description, I know. But that’s kind of just how I cook.
- In a pan on medium-high heat, heat some olive oil (about a tablespoon), and saute the onions and garlic until fragrant.
- Add the chicken and flip as necessary, for about 5 minutes.
- Once chicken is cooked through, add the spiralized squash to the pan along with the pesto sauce and a drizzle of olive oil. Add roasted peppers and cook for about 1-2 minutes (that squash cooks fast!) Mix all ingredients together and take pan off heat.
- Serve topped with shredded mozzarella cheese, and garnish with a sprinkle each of parsley and lemon zest. Enjoy!