Squash and I go way back.
We first met under a true-blue North Carolina sky while I was learning the ropes of gardening at my grandparents’ house. They always have an abundant garden and one of my favorite things about summertime when growing up was spending a week squatting on my knees pickin’ beans, eating fresh tomatoes between slices of white bread, and baking zucchini slices with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. I also had a tendency to get distracted from my bean-washing duties in the driveway making mini obstacle courses for baby toads out of old seedling containers, but that’s a different story. There’s really nothing better than hauling a huge bucket of green beans from the garden that you’ve picked yourself and then eating them for dinner that night.
The only problem with having access to so many fresh, backyard-grown veggies?
Vegetables from the grocery store never taste as good.
Still, I love my veggies and since I currently live in a place where I can’t grow my own in the backyard, I buy my veggies from the co-op or from farmers markets when I can. And the other day while I was shopping, a beautiful, yellow squash caught my eye. I think it might be the bright, sunshine-y weather that’s bringing me back to summer days, and I started craving a delicious vegetable concoction of some sort.
Combine a delicious yellow summer squash with a need for a crunchy snack and what do you get?
A snack that will squash all of your expectations.
Here’s my recipe for squash chips. The process may take a while and the chips will be gone faster than you can say “little toad obstacle course”, but it’s totally worth it to make them. They’re that good.
Oven-baked Squash Chips
1 yellow squash
Other seasonings of choice (I used an Italian blend on this batch, but I feel like you could make some great new variations on the chips – cheesy squash chips? Chipotle rubbed squash chips? Garlic squash chips?)
1. Using either a mandolin or a knife, slice the squash as thin as you can. This is the hardest and most important step of making these chips so take your time. I cut them with a knife and although difficult, they turned out perfect.
2. Spray a cookie sheet (or two) liberally with cooking spray. Then line the squash slices up on the cookie sheets, ensuring that they don’t touch (they can be really close to each other, but not touching). Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
3. Sprinkle salt over the squash slices. BE CAREFUL during this step – the chips will shrink and you don’t want to bite into a squash chip that tastes like ocean water. At this point, sprinkle whatever else you want on the chips right now too.
4. Put the cookie sheets into the oven. Let the squash chips bake for 2-3 hours (check them at 2 hours and see how long they need from there). The longer you bake them the crunchier they will be. Patience pays off in this recipe!
5. Take the chips out of the oven and try not to shove them all in your mouth at once. In fact, to keep you preoccupied while you’re snackin’ on squash chips, here’s a little bit of reading to keep you busy.
There’s a story called “True Trash” by Margaret Atwood from her collection titled Wilderness Tips that I think would be perfect for today. Set at a summer camp, this story comes equipped with docks for laying out, sunny weather, and a cool lake for swimming. And drama. Lots of suspense, intriguing interactions between campers and counselors and the female waitresses that make up a small but important chunk of the camp population. If the weather and the squash chips aren’t bringing you towards summer then this story will.
Whatever you do today, whether it’s getting outside for a walk or to mow the lawn or relax with a book, I hope you make these squash chips and thoroughly enjoy your Saturday!