Stew Summer Squash for a Bright and Quick Seasonal Side

Politicians are often criticized for toeing the party line even when they must know their stated position is wrong. I’d like to think I’m above that, but alas: I, too, in my own little world of recipes, can be guilty of it. For starters, I haven’t been fully honest with you about zucchini and summer squash.

My official position on them, one I’ve written about and argued before on Serious Eats, is that they’re watery and mild, and that the best way to make them worthwhile is to bring out their flavor by browning them. It’s not an untrue statement—in the same way that many of the talking points politicians use to dodge the complexity of an issue are not untrue—but it’s not the whole truth, either.

Yes, zucchini and squash take on a deeper, richer, fuller flavor when browned. Despite that, I’ve long enjoyed un-browned, stewed summer squash in the secrecy of my home, out of the questioning eye of the public. I’ve been living a life contrary to how I’ve been telling other people to live theirs, and I’m ready to come clean now.

The recipe here is for stewed summer squash, the way I like it, and it’s so simple that there’s hardly a thing to say about it. I start with a mix of zucchini and yellow squashes, preferably small ones picked during their peak growing season. Small, because squashes are denser, more flavorful, and less seedy when small than when they’re allowed to grow large, and in-season, because that’s when they taste best.

Next, I wash them well, scrubbing the skin carefully with my fingers under running water. This is an important step that a lot of people overlook. Summer squashes have very delicate skins, and they grow on sprawling plants near the ground. It’s very common for grains of sand and grit to get lodged in their skins, and if you don’t wash them carefully, that stuff will end up crunching between your teeth in the most unpleasant way.

I like to keep the squash in fat chunks, about an inch or two in size, though you can cut them however you like, whether that’s diced or sliced. But I think the larger chunks are more fun to eat because they get so juicy inside once cooked.

Then I gently heat some olive oil in a pot, warm a few crushed or sliced cloves of garlic in it, and add the squash, cooking and stirring occasionally until it’s tender throughout. It might brown a little, but it doesn’t have to in order to taste great.

At the very end, I toss in some fresh herbs, like torn basil leaves; drizzle a little fresh olive oil on top; and…that’s it. The result is plump and tender squash that’s bursting with its own juices. The flavor may not be deep and rich, but what it trades in that department, it gains in a bright, clean, and sunny disposition. While I usually eat at least half of a large batch right away, it gets even better after it’s come to room temperature, or—wait for it—chilled in the fridge. It’s delicious. And yes, that’s an official statement.

New, Open Spaces Transform Cramped Kitchen

A Cedar Mill couple knew their home had potential. They’d lived in the space for 15 years before beginning renovations on what was transformed into an open floor plan kitchen, dining room and lounge that opened effortlessly into the backyard with a NanaWall door.

“We never understood why when people buy a house they immediately start tearing down the walls,” they said. “As new homeowners you haven’t lived in the space long enough to know what it could and should be.”

With help from Neil Kelly Designer Fabian Genovesi, the couple turned their inspiration into reality, creating a transfixing space influenced by the bold brick of their exterior home, surrounding woodland and luxury materials. While the results look effortless, the project had challenges.

The team removed a walk-in pantry and multiple walls — including a load-bearing wall — which brightened the space and eased the flow from one room to the next. The homeowners also lacked master closet space, so Genovesi and his team moved the dining room and kitchen five feet, thereby creating a master closet.

To truly open the space to the outdoors, a NanaWall door was used between the family room and deck. The unique, compact bifold door and operable glass wall bring the outside in and take up minimal space when open.

“The first challenge was just to get the space open while maintaining the structural integrity of the house,” Genovesi said. “The home has a second story and a full daylight basement below, which meant the removal of a load-bearing wall required us to restructure the stress points of the house. Once that was done, the other elements came into place.”

The Northwest transitional design is bold yet organic, featuring white oak hardwood floors, custom Neil Kelly cabinets made of black Oregon walnut, and hardware finishes and lighting pendants in rose gold and black nickel. Every little detail was accounted for, including cabinet handles that match the shape of the appliance handles.

Top-of-the-line Miele appliances include two wall speed ovens and a range top stove on the island with a Sirius range hood that’s flush into the ceiling so as not to obstruct outdoor views. A custom pull out drawer system and plumbing make the Italian espresso maker and coffee bar come to life, and a wet bar with ornate copper metal siding creates a sleek finish.

“The jewel of the project was the unique Lumix stone counters,” Genovesi said of the stone used on the kitchen island, counters, wet bar and laundry room. “The stone is very high grade with impeccable clarity that’s just so unique.”

In total, the project took three months to design and six months to build. But the family was never without a kitchen. The design build remodel team created a temporary kitchen — complete with plumbing, a refrigerator and cabinets — in the living room to ease homeowner disruption as much as possible.

“We had a vision of what we wanted and it turned out just perfect,” the homeowners said. “The project opened everything up, giving us a really nice area to entertain and a space that flowed from the inside out. All the details are just perfect.”

Peanut Butter Banana, Protein-Packed Overnight Oats

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with oatmeal. I eat oatmeal every day in some form (and Layla does too!) whether it’s my traditional bowl with milk, blueberries and ground flaxseeds, or a less obvious use — like using oats in a smoothie! I can’t really live without oats 🙂
For a long time I’ve wanted to try overnight oats, but I just couldn’t move away from my warm bowl of oats in the morning (overnight oats are obviously eaten cold).
I usually make plain rolled oats because they cook faster and absorb more liquid than steel cut oats, and I love the soft fluffy texture when they’re freshly cooked. But I also feel like they are best eaten hot. For overnight oats, steel cut seemed like the better choice because they are chewy and have more of a dense texture – which means they won’t disintegrate in your fridge when mixed with the other ingredients overnight!

The question I always get is: are steel cut oats healthier than plain rolled oats?
Not necessarily. They are just closer to the original oat grain than rolled oats. But that doesn’t mean that rolled oats are heavily processed! Steel cut oats are made by taking the oat kernels and chopping them into thicker pieces, rather than rolling the oat kernel out and steaming it (which is what rolled oats are).
Steel cut oats may have a bit more protein than rolled oats, but the serving size is also a bit larger. Both are nutritionally equivalent, and both will keep you full for a long time.
The difference comes with instant oats — which are the most processed of the three oat varieties. They are pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled, cut up, and pressed more thinly than rolled oats. They cook more quickly than steel-cut or rolled oats, but retain pretty much no texture – so they often just taste mushy when cooked. They are higher on the glycemic index than steel cut or rolled oats, so they won’t keep you full as long.
So basically, when in doubt, use steel cut or rolled oats in your oatmeal! Choose the one whose texture you like the best, and nutritionally you will be getting the same benefits no matter which one you use. If you’re in a bind and have no other options, instant oats still has the same fiber/protein content as rolled, so they’re fine once in a while too. Bottom line: plain (non-flavored) oats are good, and you should eat them 🙂
For this recipe, I used steel cut oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill because they are non-GMO, organic and have gluten-free options!), plain Greek yogurt (I like Stonyfield Organic), some of my favorite fruits and nuts for texture.

The result is a protein-packed, delicious, grab-and-go breakfast that will keep you full forever. Like we’re talking at least 3-4 hours. I promise! AND this one little jar has over 20g protein and is vegetarian friendly!