I have four plants in my home garden, two of which were planted a few weeks before the others. The two that were put in the ground first are already showing signs of prolific fruit production, with dozens of specimens about the size and shape of my pinky finger shooting from the base of the plants in all directions.
On one of the plants the fruit is green; the other, yellow. Both also have large flowers present that are wide open during the warm part of the day, and close tightly at night.
Masquerading as a vegetable in the eyes of most, the local fresh summer squash season is now under way. And yes, it’s technically a fruit.
From green zucchini to gold bar, to patty pan and almost perfectly round eight ball squash, local farmers are just starting to harvest young tender squash in their fields. I tend to consider this a “filler vegetable,” one that has a milder flavor and lighter presence, but helps fill that plate with a healthy food option. It’s consumed both raw and cooked.
I most often cut my summer squash into long spears, drizzle with olive oil, season and then quickly char on the grill to serve as a side to my grilled meats. I additionally incorporate summer squash into vegetable trays, add to pasta sauces or lasagna, or pull out the spiral tool and turn them into noodles.
When grilling my summer squash, I very regularly have leftover spears. Sometimes I will chop them up the next day and use them as a salad topper or mix into rice. This week, however, with both leftover roasted chicken, grilled squash and a half pack of tortillas, I worked my pre-grilled zucchini spears into some homemade baked taquitos. I served them with a side of salsa, and my kids absolutely loved them and had no idea the zucchini was even present in the taquitos.
Zucchini chicken taquitos
2 medium zucchinis
4 cups cooked chicken shredded or chopped grilled. You can also use meat from a purchased pre-cooked whole roasted chicken
1½ cups shredded cheese (like jack, cheddar or comparable)
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Optional, 1 teaspoon ground cumin
Optional, 1 teaspoon chili powder
12 corn tortillas
Slice your zucchini into 4 spears, discarding the very ends. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill at high heat, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside and then dice into small pieces.
In a mixing bowl, combine zucchini, chicken, cheese, cilantro and seasonings such as ground cumin and chili powder. Mix until well incorporated. In a large flat pan, bring to medium-low heat and drizzle pan with olive oil.
Add 2-3 tortillas, or as many as you can fit in the pan and warm. You want to make sure there is a little olive oil on each side. Once they are soft, remove from heat and lay flat on a plate.
Toward the bottom portion of the tortillas, add a good amount of the mixture and roll the tortillas around. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or foil with the seam at the base so it does not unroll when cooking.
Repeat for all your tortillas. Place in a 400-degree oven and cook for about 20 minutes. Then flip and cook until crisp, about 5 more minutes.
Serve warm with your favorite salsa and/or guacamole.
Yield: 12 taquitos.