The yellow-headed stepchild
Story By Bailey Gilliam
It’s hard not to think of squash as the ugly stepchild of the zucchini. They’re usually found together in the produce section, though the zucchini bin is emptied far more often than our yellow friend. And how many recipes have you seen for yellow squash bread or muffins? Probably none. In reality yellow squash is a great food to incorporate into your diet and can be used in the same ways as its green counterpart. They can be eaten cooked or raw in a variety of dishes in a variety of flavors. They are low-calorie and low-sugar, and the fiber and water content make you stay fuller longer, which is an absolute godsend if you are watching what you eat. But despite the health benefits, they really are delicious and definitely underrated. It’s time for yellow squash to get the recognition it deserves, and we’re here to make it happen.
The delightful duo
Yellow squash is a type of summer squash that comes in two varieties: straightneck and crookneck. Straightneck has a bulbous bottom and a slightly curved, slender neck. Crookneck has larger seeds, thicker, waxier skin, and, naturally, a crooked neck.
Living in the shadows
Let this phrase sink in for a moment: all zucchini are squash, but not all squash are zucchini. It sounds like a riddle, we know. But this is absolutely true. Zucchini is a type of summer squash, just like yellow squash, the main difference being the color. Zucchini are most often found green, although there are some yellow zucchini, but let’s not muddy the waters here. Beyond color, zucchini are generally long, slender and have the same shape throughout. Yellow squash are bigger at the bottom with a smaller neck that can be straight or slightly crooked. Either can be swapped for the other in recipes or cooked together for color variety when grilling vegetables, spiralizing vegetable noodles, or tossing into your vegetable ragu. So yes, this means that your zucchini bread recipe can be made with squash.
A picture of health
Though most consider squash a vegetable, they are botanically classified as a fruit because they grow from flowers and seeds. The fascinating thing is that they bring the best of both worlds regarding health benefits. They’re low in carbs, high in fiber and nutrient-dense. They are high in vitamins A, B and C, fiber, antioxidants and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. The combination of these makes squash an all-purpose wealth of health by preventing chronic diseases, maintaining bone health, keeping the blood healthy, supporting heart health and function, protecting eye health and keeping skin and hair healthy.
Summer squash is easy to grow and prolific. A couple of plants provide plenty for a family to eat all summer. They are best grown from seeds sowed directly in the garden in a spot that gets full sun. They like loose, moist, fertile soil but can grow in almost any type of soil. They need warm temperatures to bear fruit. These fast-growing plants can spread 3-4 feet across, with leaves that are 1-2 feet wide, so give them plenty of room. Because they’re bushy plants, squash doesn’t have to be staked and can grow in large containers or in the ground. However, you might want to put cages around garden plants to keep the leaves from flopping over in bad weather. The fruits usually mature in 45 to 55 days. If you harvest fruits regularly, the plants will bear until frost. They like to stay moist but not soggy. Give 1-2 inches of water per week if rainfall is lacking. Avoid getting water on the foliage, which makes it vulnerable to diseases and attractive to pests.
When storing a whole squash, be sure it is absolutely dry before adding it to your refrigerator. Keep it in a plastic bag or container in the vegetable drawer. Avoid “air-tight” containers, as air circulation helps keep them fresh longer. Fresh squash should keep for up to two weeks, though if you start to see them shriveling or turning brown, use them sooner rather than later. Another option is to freeze squash for later use. Slice and blanch it first, then store it tightly in sealed freezer bags. This method also works with grated or spiralized squash. Be sure to drain off excess liquid when you thaw it before cooking.
Pick and choose
Remember, yellow squash, like all summer squash, are best in the summer. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering they’re called “summer” squash, but we’re not judging. That said, when picking squash, you want to ensure it has a nice, bright color. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a squash that doesn’t have a few nicks and scratches, so you can ignore those. However, if a squash looks soft, wet, wrinkled or is turning brown, it’s best to pick a different one.
Simple squash casserole
My grandmother also had a squash casserole recipe, but it’s a family secret that cannot be shared. Luckily, there are others out there that are easier and do the veggie justice. This recipe featuring Parmesan will grab the attention of even the pickiest eaters.
6 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish or a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Wash and thinly slice squash. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, dried minced onion, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Fold in grated cheese, then pour the mixture over the squash. Mix to combine. Transfer the squash and cheese mixture to the prepared baking dish.  In a small bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs with melted butter, garlic salt, Parmesan and fresh parsley. Sprinkle over squash.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble and the topping is lightly golden brown.
4 STEP RECIPE & 4 INGREDIENT
Meemaw’s Baked Squash
My grandmother, Lydia Gilliam, made this easy squash recipe at every family gathering. It didn’t last long and won’t last long at your house either. All you need is squash, cornmeal and cooking spray, and you’ll have a side dish or appetizer that will leave guests wanting more.
2 large yellow squash
 Heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.  Wash and slice squash into thin circles. Set aside.  Mix equal parts flour and cornmeal in a large bowl. Dip squash in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides.  Lay squash on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes on each side or until brown and crispy.
Yellow squash bread
Since we’ve made the bold statement that squash can be used just like zucchini, here’s a recipe to prove it. This squash bread will make you think twice about using zucchini in the future in all baked goods.
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded yellow squash
 Heat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.  Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in sugar, oil and vanilla; gradually mix in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Fold in squash and pour batter into the prepared baking dish.  Bake until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Other ways to eat squash
Yellow squash can be roasted, grilled, sautéed, fried in the air fryer, eaten raw or even baked into desserts and breads like zucchini. Add it to soups, salads, pasta and stir-fries, or have it alone.
Bake Cut in half or pieces and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.
Sauté Slice into pieces and sauté in butter over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
Grill Cut into thick slices or wedges, brush with oil and grill for 5 minutes on each side.
Air fry Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and air fry at 375 degrees for eight minutes, flipping halfway through.