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Pan-Fried Summer Squash Tacos

Pan-Fried Summer Squash Tacos
Matt Kettmann

Like our seasonal tomato overabundance, squash of all shapes and colors tend to jam Santa Barbara shelves during the summer. If you’re always on a taco kick like my family, but not requiring meat nightly, this is a relatively healthy and quick dinner option. Cut the squash into roughly half-inch-thick wedges, heat olive oil in a fairly hot pan, toss in crudely chopped chunks of garlic, and then add the squash (seasoned to your liking, though simple sea salt and fresh cracked pepper do fine) after the garlic starts to glisten. As you warm tortillas, the key is to get the squash slightly brown on the fleshy sides while keeping it moist inside, thereby retaining the rind’s natural snap without the guts going mushy. It’s a delicate balancing act, aided by high heat for the browning and the occasional splash of white wine for the moisture, but you always want the pan close to looking dry. Frequent tasting of the squash as you cook for five to 10 minutes is the best way to ensure a desirable result. When almost done, top with the shredded cheese of your choice and then kill the flame, allowing the cheese to melt across the squash. Finish with dried oregano from your garden, plop it onto a hot tortilla, and top with avocado, bell pepper slices, and salsa, ideally the ghost pepper or serrano chile ones that your neighbors made. It’s savory, fresh, and surprisingly meaty, from concept to mouth in less than 20 minutes.

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