Eatin’ in Season

Summer is officially here, and so is local summer squash. The blossoms and bold hues of the many available varieties of squash began brightening up area farmers markets in June, and remain a market staple through September.

“Local squash is bursting with flavor, tender and soft — not waxy,” says John Stehling, who owns Early Girl Eatery with his wife, Julie. Shanon Blair, co-owner of the recently opened Green Light Café with her husband Michael, agrees. “When they’re locally grown, they’re picked properly and are a lot sweeter,” she says. Squash that is grown locally is less likely to have that “weird bitter bite” most of us have experienced at least once with trucked-in squash.

Both John and Shanon favor simpler preparations of the summer crop. John likes to grill his in the open air with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, while Shanon prefers hers lightly sautéed with salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and any fresh herbs she has on hand.

From the simple to the more complex, when it comes to squash, the options are endless. “They’re like blue jeans,” John remarks. “They go with almost everything.”

Sure summer squash makes a great side dish, but imagine it on top of cheeseburgers or salads. Squash casserole makes a great summer treat, as do breads, rice pilaf, omelets, kabobs and soups. Shanon has even tried it pickled, and enjoys using julienned raw squash as a spaghetti substitute.

John suggests trying all the varieties available at tailgate markets — besides zucchini, there are patty pans, zephyrs, and crook necks.

If squash blossoms are considered uncharted territory, he recommends trying this simple, flavorful approach: Just sauté diced carrots, celery, onion, squash and herbs in olive oil, then toss in a little goat cheese and combine to make a stuffing mixture. Gently stuff the blossom and twist the end closed. Dredge the stuffed blossom in egg wash and flour or cornmeal and fry lightly until slightly crisp and brown. 

Squash is available right now on the menus of Early Girl and Green Light, as well as other local eateries, as part of Get Local, a program of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project ( The program brings together restaurants around the region to highlight a single seasonal ingredient in their own unique dishes. Check out recipes provided for the squash specialties of the restaurateurs mentioned here.

…and blueberries, too

Blueberries recently joined squash and other summer fruits and veggies at markets and have been going fast. Larger quantities will be available at markets this week and over the next couple of months.

Their arrival signals the home stretch of the wait for local tomatoes, which hit the scene in late July. But the wait’s over for green tomatoes; they’re available now at select locations, including the Black Mountain Tailgate Market. You can also find tomato plants at markets, along with other vegetable and herb starts, for your own garden.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Eatin’ in Season

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.