The farmers market is in full-tilt swing now, and I tend to overload my bags just because the produce looks so shiny and promising. Let’s face it, it’s not hard to eat healthy in the summer. Cantelope and watermelon salads, corn and black bean salsa, tomatoes smothering everything and squash, squash, squash.
I’m always surprised when even the pickiest eaters I know, and I know quite a few, profess their love for squash. You’d think, that with its somewhat gooey consistency when cooked that it would turn off some people. But no.
My theory is that it reminds everyone of their grandmother. Really, who didn’t have a Nana, Mamoo, Granny, Oma or Mee-Maw that didn’t have at least one trademark squash recipe? They stewed, pickled, broiled and grilled it, made bread from it or tossed it in soup or salads.
Using squash in myriad ways makes us feel as frugal and resourceful as our grannies. And that’s a noble aspiration. My friend, Melissa, simply slices it, tops the slices with grated Parmesan cheese and broils them until the cheese is brown. People snap them up like potato chips.
The other day at the farmer’s market, while I was picking through a pile of Cherokee tomatoes, a reader stopped me and offered me a fantastic gift – a squash recipe I have never heard of before. She told me in glowing terms of the magic of a squash pie that tastes just like lemon pie. I must have looked incredulous – I mean – who wouldn’t? She reassured me that she had been making it for years, and sometimes substituted coconut and coconut flavoring to make completely different magic.
I couldn’t wait. I Googled “squash lemon pie” and there it was on the Food Network site. And what’s it called? Grandma Williams’ Squash Pie.
Enjoy this little slice of heaven and history.
Grandma Williams’ Squash Pie
(Makes three 9-inch pies and freezes well)
6 medium yellow squash, sliced (not peeled)
8 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon extract
Three prepared pie crusts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the squash in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the squash is very tender, but not falling apart – about 20 minutes. Drain the squash, pushing on it with a spoon to remove excess water.
Place the squash in a blender. Add butter and flour and puree. Stop the blender and add the sugar, lemon extract and eggs. Blend on medium speed until smooth. Divide the mixture between the three pie crusts and bake 45 mintues to one hour, until the filling is set. Let cool at least an hour before slicing.