Crookneck squash are a type of yellow summer squash with bulbous bodies and long, often quite curved necks. It has a mild flavor and watery texture, and can be cooked by steaming, sautéeing, grilling, broiling, simmering, roasting, and baking, as well as eaten raw.
What Are Crookneck Squash?
Crookneck squash, also known as yellow crookneck or simply yellow squash, is a member of the squash family (Cucurbitaceae), specifically Cucurbita pepo, which also includes zucchini. A summer squash, meaning it is harvested before it reaches full maturity, crookneck squash has a thin, flavorful skin to go with its mild, almost buttery flavor and tender, watery flesh. Its skin is a creamy yellow color, and its flesh is ivory-white with relatively few seeds (which themselves are soft and edible).
Crookneck squash are harvested when still young, when they're about 2-inches in diameter and 5- to 6-inches in length. When they get older, their skin hardens and thickens, and their seeds become harder. Additionally, when left to mature on the vine, the skin will develop a bumpy texture.
How to Cook With Crookneck Squash
Crookneck squash can be cooked in all of the same ways you cook other summer squash, such as by sautéeing, stir-frying, baking, and grilling. In general, anything you can do with zucchini, you can also do with crookneck squash. They can be battered or breaded to make tempura or squash "fries," and they can also be cut into long strands using a spiralizer and served as squash "noodles," similar to zucchini. And, they can be shredded and used in all kinds of baked recipes, including cakes, quick breads, muffins, pancakes, and even cookies. They're also delicious served raw as part of a crudité platter. You can even bake them into a pie.
The only thing that makes crookneck squash more tricky to cook with than zucchini is the fact that their shape is so irregular. Unlike zucchini (as well as yellow straightneck squash), crookneck squash are markedly wider at the blossom end than they are at the stem end, and the narrow end is often quite curved, almost in the form of a hook. This can make prep slightly more time-consuming, as well as make it harder to cook evenly since some sections will be smaller than others.
To roast crookneck squash, preheat your oven to 400 F. Wash and dry the squash, then slice them into sections, toss in olive oil, and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as well as some chopped fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, oregano or basil. Arrange the cut squash on a sheet pan and roast for 10 to 15 minutes. You can turn them once during cooking so that both sides develop some caramelization.
What Do They Taste Like?
Crookneck squash have a mild, slightly sweet, buttery, nutty flavor, with slightly bitter notes, and a tender, watery texture, similar to zucchini and other yellow-skinned summer squash, like straightneck or pattypan.
A 100 gram serving of crookneck squash is 94 percent water and provides 19 calories, 4 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber, along with 1 gram of protein and less than half a gram of fat. It contains 19 grams of vitamin C, which is more than 20 percent of the daily value, making it an excellent source of that nutrient.
Crookneck Squash Recipes
You can substitute crookneck squash for practically any recipe that calls for summer squash, including zucchini, straightneck, and pattypan. Or use them in combination with any or all of these.
- Spiralized Summer Squash With Garlic And Basil
- Grilled Zucchini And Summer Squash
- Yellow Summer Squash Souffle
Where to Buy Crookneck Squash
Crookneck squash are available year-round, but they're at the best when they're in season locally, which is during the summer months. During those months you can find them at supermarkets and farmers' markets in abundance. Look for ones with bright yellow color that are smooth and unwrinkled, with no bruises, dents, soft spots, or brown spots.
Crookneck squash can be stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to 10 days. Handle it gently as the thin skin is easily scratched and bruised. To freeze crookneck squash, slice it and then blanch it for about 3 minutes, then drain, cool and freeze on a flat sheet pan before transferring to freezer bags.
Crookneck squash. FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture