Among the best things of all the wonderful summer produce that used to come from my dad's now-dormant vegetable garden were summer squashes — whimsical crooknecks, delicate yellows and those overabundant zucchinis that can grow as big as a bolster pillow. Our family loved them all, and good thing — Dad's garden produced them by the bushel, and those squashes are the things I miss the most from his garden.
We cooked them in all the usual ways and never tired of any of them: breaded and fried; sautéed or steamed with onions; creamed; stuffed and baked; roasted with tomatoes and onions; and mashed and folded into a casserole with onions and soft bread crumbs.
I've also never tired of experimenting with ways of preparing them I've not tried before. For example, I've found they make a wonderful sauce when grated and tossed with pasta, alone or paired with fish, poultry or seafood.
Using them in that way made me wonder if they might also make a nice sauce for chicken. Sure enough, I discovered that they do. It's a perfect thing for coping with summer's heat. Squash prepared this way are also lovely over or alongside firm, thick fish fillets such as sea bass, snapper, pompano or any other fish you bring home from the beach or fish market.
Chicken Cutlets With Summer Squash
2 small yellow squash
2 small zucchini, no more than 1-inch in diameter
2 boned and skinned chicken breast halves, 12-14 ounces each
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small bunch scallions or small green onions, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
8-10 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne just before using
Scrub both kinds of squash under cold running water. Trim and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice into 1/4-inch-thick strips about 1 1/2 inches long.
Trim the chicken breasts of any fat and cartilage, then lay them flat on a work surface and, pressing each flat with your hand, carefully split each in half horizontally, making 2 equal flat cutlets. Lay them between sheets of plastic wrap, and gently pound them out to a uniform thickness with a textured meat mallet, the side of a hammerhead or whatever pounding device you may have on hand. Pat them dry, and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.
Film a heavy-bottomed, lidded 12- to 14-inch skillet with oil, and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Warm it over medium heat. When the butter's foaming subsides, put in the cutlets and cook until their bottoms are nicely browned and releasing from the pan, 2-3 minutes.
Carefully turn and cook them until the second side is browned, about 2 minutes longer. Add a splash of water, cover and turn heat to medium-low. Cook until they're just cooked through, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove them to a warm plate, and cover.
Raise the heat to medium, and coat the pan once again with oil. Add remaining tablespoon of butter, the white part of the scallions and all of the squash. Sauté until the squash are almost tender and just beginning to brown at their edges, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Push the squash to one side, return the cutlets to the pan, and gently scoop the squash over them. Scatter the marjoram or oregano and green parts of the scallions evenly over them, cover, and let them just heat through, about 2 minutes. Remove the cutlets to a warm platter. Taste and adjust the seasonings in the squash, then spoon them evenly over the cutlets, scatter the basil over all and serve immediately.
NEW PRODUCE MARKET
The Hughes Farm on Flattop Mountain is a familiar name to many Chattanoogans, but knowing where the family's produce was sold was sometimes hard to find out unless you drove up the mountain to the farm's produce stand. Now, they've opened a market at 6402 Hixson Pike next to Don's Meat Market. It's hard to miss with its racks of flowering plants, handmade wood items and stands of fresh peaches outside. Inside is where the fun begins. Veggies fresh from the farm, along with jams, salsas, pickles, cakes, pies, candies, local honey, handmade soaps and lotions — it takes some time to take it all in.
I was told the Hugheses will start picking tomatoes and peaches this week. Most likely, they'll continue to be supplemented with fruits and vegetables out of Georgia until the local season is in full swing.
Contact Anne Braly at email@example.com or annebraly.com.