Recipes, Tips Tricks & Gadgets, Vegan, Vegetarian
Comments 12

Summer supper: Fresh green beans and tender summer squash

Summer squash and green beans with Gruyere cheese

When I was a kid, my folks planted a big garden every year. We’re talking HUGE. After all, it was our main source of food all year-long. Working side by side, Mom and Dad canned and froze just about everything they grew. Everything we didn’t eat, that is.

Summer squash and fresh green beans, lightly sauteed, with shaved Parmesan Reggiano

Summer squash and fresh green beans, lightly sautéed, with shaved Gruyère from our local cheese store

We younguns, as Dad called us, helped too, until we became too rambunctious to be worth the trouble. Then they’d chase us outdoors or send us to pick more garden produce.

Did you have a favorite summer vegetable you waited for all winter and spring?

One of our summer delights was the first mess of fresh, crisp green beans. Mom had to chide us more than once to leave enough baby beans on the vine to grow to canning and eating sizes.

Sinking our bare toes into the cool brown earth beneath the plants, we would snap those sweet, slim, green crescents off and gobble them right there in the middle of the rows.

Along about the middle of July, the beans came on strong. For the first time all summer, we picked enough to feed our entire brood our fill.

Mom always boiled the beans, and served them up in a big bowl, alongside a plate of first tomatoes, sliced into juicy, red wagon wheels. There were cukes too–fresh cucumbers cut lengthwise and in coins, cool to the touch and cool on the throat. We argued about which tasted better, the coins or the wedges.

City fare

Living in the city, the closest I get to a garden these days is growing micro greens on my windowsill. I depend on the local organic produce grocer and the farmer’s markets for my near-garden-fresh veggies.

Washing a fresh mess of organic green beans and yellow summer squashes from the local green grocer

Washing a fresh mess of organic green beans and yellow summer squashes from the local green grocer

About the second week of July, I prowl the aisles for that first bushel basket of crisp, bright, local garden beans and tiny yellow squashes. It is one of our favorite summer suppers.

If we can get a mess of picked-that-day green beans and tender yellow squashes, we steam them just crunchy tender and eat them au naturel, sans butter or any other condiment. They’re that good.

Usually, I buy a pound of beans and 1-2 squashes per person, because this is our entrée. We love them that much!

If the squash and green beans are a day or two old, as these were when I purchased them yesterday, I doctor them up a wee bit, with a little butter melted over the top or thin shavings of a fabulous Gruyère cheese from our local cheese store. Oh, the flavor!

Tip for beginners

Invest in an inexpensive stainless steel steamer like this one–versatile, and it lasts years and years.

Frying pan with my decades-old vegetable steamer in place over half an inch of waterI’ve had mine for decades. I’m a grandmother, remember! You can tell, I’ve used it a lot, as it’s missing its center post and pull ring, which made it easy to lift from the pan. I don’t mind that they’re gone. I can manage just fine without the post and ring.

The steamer opens to full skillet size, or folds to fit inside almost any saucepan, and holds a couple of pounds of vegetables.

Best of all, it is stainless steel, so no leaching into your food! Oh, and did I mention it folds away into a cute little shell only a few inches across? Neat, huh?

A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

Fresh green beans and yellow summer squash

Vegan or vegetarian, simple supper entrée or colorful side dish–make these any way you choose. Cooking for a mixed bunch? If you have die-hard meat eaters in your life as we do, serve a portion next to a slice of honey-glazed pasture-fed ham steak. Just be sure to fry it in a pan you reserve only for meat.

Best of all, it takes only fifteen minutes to prepare this dish, from turning the burner on to setting the beans and squashes on the table, hot and steaming. Perfect for a summer evening, wouldn’t you say?

Cook time and such

  • Servings: 2
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
Adding the beans to the steamer

Adding the beans to the steamer

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, well washed
  • 3 -4 small yellow crookneck or sunburst yellow squash, also washed
  • 1/4 t Organic butter (optional)
  • 1/2 ounce Gruyère cheese, shaved or 1 T toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Twist of freshly ground pepper
Adding the squash to the partially-steamed beans

Adding the squash to the partially steamed beans

Directions

  1. To a large skillet, add about half an inch filtered tap water and lay a vegetable steamer in the pan. The water should not reach the bottom of the steamer. Bring to boil.
  2. Lay the uncut green beans on the steamer and cover the pan. Steam 4-5 minutes.
  3. While the beans steam, quickly slice the squash into wedges about 3/4 inch thick. Lay on top of beans and cover.
  4. Steam the vegetables two to three more minutes to crunchy-tender stage for the beans and heated through for the squash.
  5. If you’re having cheese, shave it while the veggies finish steaming so you can toss it over them while they’re hot.
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt and twist of pepper to taste.

Plate and serve au naturel, or garnish with butter and shaved cheese, vegan or the real deal, as you prefer.

 

Frugal Tip

Save that steam water! It’s full of nutrients. When it’s thoroughly cool, add it to a veggie soup stock bowl in your freezer. Don’t have one? Here’s how to start a veggie soup stock freezer bowl and make homemade veggie stock from scratch the easy way.

Plain, with toasted sesame seeds, or with butter and cheese, what’s your pleasure?

When the veggies are fresh picked the same day, all their delicate and nuanced flavors come through without much more than a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper.

Yellow summer squash and fresh green beans lightly steamed

Yellow summer squash and fresh green beans lightly steamed

When we need a little more oomph, or perhaps because we love them so much, the non-vegans among us add a dollop of butter and shave some of our favorite cheese over them, like this. If I have a couple of extra minutes, I’ll toss some toasted sesame seeds over them for those lovely little bursts of flavor you get when you pop one with your teeth.

Pepper dusted summer squash and green beans with shaved Gruyere cheese

Pepper dusted summer squash and green beans with shaved Gruyère cheese

Are you like me and think fresh garden vegetables delicious as the finest candy? What summer vegetables do you crave all winter, and haunt the produce aisles for, come June or July?

 

12 Comments

  1. We are lucky to have a produce stand from a local farm not too far away. We get corn on the cob, blueberries and tomatoes from them. I have too much shade to grow veggies, but did get one picking of leafy lettuce from my planter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucky indeed. I miss living near a produce stand, with tree-ripened, just-picked fruits and veggies. Will you try the lettuce planter again?

      Like

  2. Wow, this looks so delicious! Love that you cut the squash in long pieces like the beans. Makes the dish even more appealing. Thanks for sharing! I’ve yum’d it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon L. Grace says

    I love this dish! Every time I see it I want a serving. And I enjoy how you always engage me quickly and hold my attention when you write about simple, easy food memories and kitchen fare. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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