One of my most beloved summer side-dishes that I rely on all season long is my mother’s Caramelized Summer Squash and Onions recipe that I prepare with local produce from the East Nashville Farmers Market. As a little girl, momma sliced fresh summer squash and zucchini from our backyard garden and sautéed them together in a bit of olive oil. Today, I love cooking the fresh summer produce from my neighborhood farmers’ market in simple, easy ways, just like my mother did when I was a child.
This recipe is so flavorful and delicious, it has turned many of my squash-despising friends into devoted squash lovers! The sweetness that is coaxed out of the fresh squash and onions makes this the perfect recipe for everyone, especially kids. It’s great for parents who love to shop at the East Nashville market with little time or ingredients on hand. Plus, it’s healthy and can be enjoyed by virtually anyone — vegan, vegetarian, and also gluten-free.
My grocery list for the farmers’ market was short — I chose fresh yellow squash and zucchini from Oak Grove Farm and one bunch of spring onions from Green Door Gourmet. All I needed at home was olive oil and salt and pepper, and I was ready to recreate my childhood favorite.
First, I thoroughly washed my veggies and grabbed a knife, a cutting board, and a large sauté pan. I sliced my crisp, fresh onions into rounds and sliced the rounds into half moons. For my squash and zucchini, I prefer to slice small rounds from the smaller sections and half moons for the larger, more bulbous half. I also included a slender golden zucchini for added color.
Next, I swirled my pan with 2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, which gives my veggies a lovely flavor and aroma. Standard olive oil is fine, too. I heated my pan to just above medium and tossed in my onions with a half teaspoon of salt.
I sautéed my spring onions for a good ten minutes, or until they were soften and just beginning to caramelize. Once my onions began to brown, I added all of my sliced squash and zucchini and mixed well with the sautéed onions.
Once thoroughly mixed, my mother taught me the trick to create a beautifully caramelized squash — turn-up the heat and simply walk away! That’s right. I popped the knob up to just under med-high and did not touch my sauté pan for five minutes.
After five minutes were up, I gave my squash and onions a good stir and noticed some nice caramelization. I was on the right track! Next, I walked away for another two to three minutes, and I repeated until my veggies were golden and delicious (about fifteen more minutes).
At this point, you can add a knob of butter if you like (my mother would encourage it!), and you are ready to enjoy your farmers’ market summer squash. In my family, we would enjoy this dish with some freshly-sliced summer tomatoes and green beans from the garden. Easy, healthy, and oh-so delicious.
Simple Caramelized Summer Squash and Onions
2 cups sliced spring onions
4 cups sliced yellow squash and zucchini
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper