SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The season is almost over, but there's still time for another taste of summer.
(SOUNDBITE OF "HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME")
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: (Singing) Hot fun in the summertime, hot fun in the summertime. Hot fun...
SIMON: Today, we're going to find out a few new ways to enjoy summer squash. Chef Tanya Holland joins us. She was executive chef and owner of two restaurants in Oakland, California. There's B-Side BBQ and Brown Sugar Kitchen, which is where we've reached Chef Tanya Holland, who's in the middle of her lunch rush this week. Thanks very much for speaking with us, chef.
TANYA HOLLAND: Oh, thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.
SIMON: So squash just isn't for fall and winter, huh?
HOLLAND: No. I love summer squash. There's such a great variety and they're beautiful to look at and they're very versatile.
SIMON: Summer squash, you eat everything. They're kind of like soft shell crab that way, right?
HOLLAND: Exactly. You can eat the skin and all.
SIMON: But gourds can be difficult to work with, can't they?
HOLLAND: Well, summer squash is pretty small. There's a lot of miniatures during the summer, like patty pan or sunburst squash, that they're not that big so they are kind of easy to handle. It's more the winter squash that gets larger.
SIMON: Well, what to you enjoy about working with summer squash?
HOLLAND: I love the versatility. It can pretty much be used in any dish as a vegetarian substitute that might require chicken or a fish. It kind of takes on any flavor that you put it with. So in our cuisine, since it's a focus on Southern and soul and Creole, we add a lot of spices to it that kind of make it more in our genre.
SIMON: So I understand you've got a roasted summer squash egg tart.
HOLLAND: Yes. The tart is really a fancy word for the quiche or a different word for quiche. I just wanted to call it a tart since we're not a French restaurant. But it's an egg custard made with whole eggs, egg yolk and we use half and half, so half milk, half cream. And then we fill it in a prebaked tart shell, which we make our crust here, but you can buy it at the store. We cut up all the squash, roast it in the oven with some olive oil and salt.
And we might add some other ingredients. For instance, in the recipe that I'm sharing with you guys I did some sauteed spinach leaves and some sauteed spring onions and fresh herbs. And we add Gruyere cheese. Bake that for almost an hour. But it's a really good dish that could be breakfast or lunch.
SIMON: And you also make a summer squash succotash, I'm told.
HOLLAND: Yes, the succotash is usually a mix of corn and peppers, sometimes black eyed peas, and I just added the summer squash to give it a little bit more body to it, if you will, because the peas and the peppers is almost like a light relish, and if you add the squash it can be a nice vegetarian meal. And the succotash is a kind of a - it's a saute but you add broth and a little sour cream, so it thickens. And it's pretty substantial.
SIMON: I've heard grand things about your vegetarian dirty rice.
HOLLAND: Yeah, it's really tasty.
SIMON: That's another southern recipe, I'm getting, right?
HOLLAND: You're right. Dirty rice definitely is kind of a New Orleans, Louisiana dish. And the dirty is usually from the innards that are chopped up, like chicken livers and gizzards.
But we're making a vegetarian variety. And to sort of give it that "dirty" - and that's kind of in quotes - quality, we use Worcestershire sauce and a little soy sauce, ground black pepper, chopped thyme, other fresh herbs. So you start with white rice, but you kind of end up with a rice that has, like, a little brownish color to it.
And it's filled with lots of vegetables; scallions, bell peppers, garlic. We use some jalapeno chilis and the sliced summer squash. And, again, we use a variety, so you get a variety of flavor and it's, again, it's a great meal, vegetarian option, and great for the summer, too.
SIMON: May I ask, Chef Holland, how do you wind up cooking Southern cuisine in Oakland?
HOLLAND: Well, my parents are both from the South. My dad's from Virginia, my mother's from Louisiana, so I grew up spending summers in those states with my grandparents. And then I grew up in Rochester, New York, but my parents would cook this food, you know, especially when they're feeling homesick. And I've taken it with me wherever I've gone. I trained in France, but I always knew I wanted to bring those French techniques to a metropolitan area.
SIMON: So people'd be able to get summer squash more or less anywhere in the country right now?
HOLLAND: Yeah, definitely. You might not get the variety of the, you know, the patty pan or the sunburst. Those are a little bit more heirloom and little more difficult to get. But definitely either crooked neck and zucchini, you know, in the United States it's available year around, but it's not always the best. It's the best in the summer.
SIMON: Tanya Holland is executive chef and owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ in Oakland, California. Her summer squash recipes can be found on our website. Just go to npr.org/tasteofsummer.
Chef Tanya Holland, thanks so much.
HOLLAND: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF "HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME")
STONE: (Singing) Oh, yeah. Hot fun in the summertime, hot fun in the summertime. Hot fun in the summertime. Hot fun in the summertime. First of the fall and then she goes back. Bye, bye, bye, bye, them summer days. Those summer days...
SIMON: Suffering succotash. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.
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