RECIPE: Summer Squash Ribbons With Walnut Pesto

Raw and tossed in a light pesto, here’s how to dress up the rest of your summer squash.

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More than just a soft, mildly textured rind, summer squash add a burst of versatility to our summer menus. A mostly underrated vegetable, summer squash sometimes gets a bad rap from childhood memories as being under-seasoned and rubbery (sorry, Mom!). I’ve come to terms with broccoli, and it’s about time I face my squash-faced demons, too.

We were so fortunate this year to see the abundance of summer squash, whether it was from the Greenmarket or from the local CSA. This gave us all plenty of opportunities to become acquainted with our green and yellow friends. Sadly, the season is almost over and I’ve been racing to use up all of my produce before it’s too late. I love using my summer squash raw, since the rind is edible because it’s harvested young. A quick rinse, and there’s virtually no prep time.

As a way to ease into fall (is it September already?) one of my favorite methods has been peeling yellow squash into ribbons to make a pseudo pasta and whipping up an accompanying walnut basil pesto that is silky, earthy, and super satisfying. This is a great way to sneak veggies into your dinner or to appease your gluten-free friends. Keeping in mind that you will be eating the rind, it’s best to choose squash with a taut, blemish-free exterior.

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Makes 2 servings

Squash “pasta”
2 summer squash, washed

Pesto
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/2 olive oil, or to taste
1 1/4 cup basil, washed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave the squash lengthwise to make strips or ribbons.

In a food processor, combine walnuts and garlic and grind until mostly smooth (you can also stop grinding sooner if you want a chunkier pesto). Slowly begin to stream in some of the oil, and when the paste loosens from the bowl, add basil and grind. Add remainder of oil, pulse until combined and then remove into a bowl. Finish with cheese, lemon, salt, and pepper.

Toss your squash ribbons with your pesto in a skillet, heat on medium for about three minutes, and you’ve got yourself a great side dish or brag-worthy work lunch!

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Emily is a freelance writer, food stylist and prolific devourer. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, her career has varied from working the line at a two-Michelin restaurant to her most recent work: writing the 2014 SXSW Cookbook. Her passions include iced coffee and quenelles.