Test Cook Report – Valerie Harper’s Summer Squash

I am a Bread Angel!  It’s a network of wonderful home bakers who teach, make bread to sell in their local communities, run micro-bakeries, and often do wonderfully altruistic things involving bread.  Our motto is “Bake Well. Do Good”.  Isn’t that fabulous?  

I have met lots of wonderful people through the Bread Angels network but my favourite of course, is my own personal Bread Angel Juli Farkas of the Our Bread East Sheen Microbakery.  When I was first thinking about selling bread made with my nephew’s beer at his brewery open days, I spent two days at Juli’s house learning all about sourdough and it was such a brilliant experience.  If you are in the UK and you want to learn how to make wonderful loaves, check out the Bread Angels website, there are teachers all around the country.

I was so chuffed when Juli came to my very first bake sale to support me.  Here we are together.

Ah, that was such a fun day!

Test cooking for the Columbo cookbook is gathering pace and the deadline for feedback is officially tomorrow, but there may be a few more days of leeway.  I’m working on the layout of the book and plugging in all the great comments I’ve had from folks about the recipes.  It’s fun but time-consuming.  

Ages ago, Juli sent me some great feedback on Valerie Harper’s summer squash recipe.  I should point out before we go any further that her son is an anesthetist… Oh, and that in the book I suggest British cooks could use courgettes (zucchini) for this dish, as most of us here don’t get an array of squash to choose from.

Photo from the Kitchn website – from an article all about summer squash

Here’s the wherewithal for the recipe…

Juli and her son enjoyed the dish but Juli felt that maybe the courgettes could have benefitted from the salting and rinsing technique to remove some of the water content.  She also suggested roasting them in the oven with a little olive oil to boost the flavour before adding to the dish.  I think that’s a very good idea. 

As Juli’s son was eating it just before going to work and he did not want to breathe garlic over the people he was anaesthetising, the garlic was left out.  

I loved Juli’s final comment: “My son thought it was nice even without the garlic – ‘it is the parmesan that makes this dish’ he said before he went off to put people to sleep.”

 
 
Haha!  THANK YOU JULI!  I am going to make this again soon, using your recommendations about extracting water from the courgettes and roasting them.  That will definitely give this recipe more oomph.
 

Valerie Harper’s Summer Squash

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed

1 green pepper, chopped

4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1.5 lbs / 675g summer squash

1 cup / 100g grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C / gas mark 4. 

Sauté onions, garlic and green pepper in butter until tender and light brown.  Add tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook, stirring occasionally.  Peel squash if the skin is not tender.  Cut into slices or cubes.  Add 1/2 cup boiling water, cover tightly and cook until squash is just tender; drain.  

Turn half of the squash into a deep pie pan or casserole dish.  Cover with half of the tomato sauce and half of the cheese; repeat layers.  Bake until cheese topping is bubbly and beginning to brown (about 10 minutes).

Serves 2

When I was a small girl.  I wanted dreamed that I would have a life like Rhoda when I grew up

living in a cool flat, having adventures.  I pretty much have!

 
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