Mom’s Summer Squash

My mother is the only person I have ever known who can make summer squash taste this good. Often this time of year gardens are overflowing with zucchini and summer squash. This quick and easy recipe is a great way to use up some of the bounty. Note that summer squash varies in tenderness, sometimes you need to cook them a little longer, sometimes a little less.

Mom’s Summer Squash Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.


  • 2 lbs squash and/or zucchini, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeds removed, sliced
  • 2 smallish tomatoes or one large tomato, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 5 or 6 slices of cheese - jack or cheddar
  • Basil, either dry or chopped fresh
  • Salt and pepper


1 Put onion, garlic, squash, bell pepper into a large saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put on high heat and brown the vegetables slightly to develop flavor. As you are browning, sprinkle either dried basil or chopped fresh basil on the vegetables. When vegetables are slightly browned, remove from heat, add the slices of cheese, and cover the pan.

2 In a separate stick-free fry pan, put the tomatoes and cook at medium hi heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to let the juice from the tomatoes evaporate some. After 5 minutes, add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.

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  1. Pink Sun Drops

    One word: yum. And I didn’t even follow the recipe as meant to. I burnt the tomatoes (am I the only one that can’t cook and talk on the phone?) and forgot the cheese. I’m sure it would be even yummier with those :) !

  2. Irina

    Hi Elise,
    I just made these tonight and loved the combination of flavors. The only problem I had was that in the end it was too soggy. I have very limited experience cooking squash- did I overcook it or what went wrong? Yours look so crisp and good!

  3. Elise

    Hi Irina – you may have overcooked them. Squash is variable in terms of cooking time. Some are quite tender and cook up quickly, some are tougher and take more time.

  4. Garen

    One thing you can do to keep squash from getting too squashy is to toss the cut pieces with a coarse salt in a colander. The salt with draw out the water from the squash. After 10 minutes or so, rinse away the salt, pat dry, and it will brown quite nicely.

  5. Karen

    I’m becoming a pro at ‘summer squash’ recipes because my plants just won’t stop making squash! I make this sauted squash, but I add a 1/2 cup of some spicy italian marinara sauce at the end as well, or use canned ‘italian’ style tomatoes drained well. Also, make a gratin out of zuchinni and yellow squash by layering in a baking dish with the onions, peppers, garlic, spices, melted butter or margerine and breadcrumbs and cheese. Bake for 35 mins (approximate) at 375.

  6. mireille

    Made this last night and it was delicious. Wish I could have gotten more browning on the squash, but oh well. The vegetable DID hold up; no mush. Thank you! xoxo

  7. Michael

    I made a very similar dish the other day. I sauteed summer squash and zucchini with red onion and multi-colored bell pepper in grapeseed oil. Once they were slightly browned, I added a few tablespoons of olive oil and a roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato pesto (about 10 parts basil, 3 parts pine nuts, 3 parts sun-dried tomato, 3 parts parm chs and 1 part roasted garlic) I had thrown together earlier in the day. In the fall, when the squash is firmer and less sweet, I do the same thing but replace the peppers with bias-cut asparagus.

  8. kathy

    I am going to try this on the grill-wrapped in foil! Looks delicious!


    I made Mom’s Summer Squash recipe and served it over rice. It is truly great. It tastes Chinese somewhat, but she does not mention when to use the garlic. However, I figured it out. My husband loved it very very much. I did as well.


    B. S.

  10. Dwight Turner

    I rasied some summer squash this year and the taste is terribly bland. Rather than throw out the squash, I have looked for recipes that will spruce up the taste. I tried your Mom’s Summer Squash recipe and it was great. My neighbor grows the best tasting tomatoes in the world, and he brings me a handfull every week; so I used his tomatoes in the recipe. Well, it was just fantastic. Thanks for helping me find an enjoyable way to eat my home-grown – although practically tasteless – squash.

  11. Amber

    I am eating this right now and am loving it! I’m new to living on my own and have been looking for a simple way to make use of all those home-grown vegetables my grandmother has given me! I will have to use this one again to impress Mom!

  12. Suzanne in TN

    Hi everyone! I made a version of the Mom’s Summer Squash recipe and it was a huge hit at my house. Below is what I did!

    Squash & Zucchini
    2 med zucchini, sliced 1/2″ or so thick
    3 yellow squash, sliced 1/2″ or so thick
    2 garlic cloves, pressed

    dehydrated onions – approx 1 tsp, could use fresh onions, I just didn’t have any

    6-8 fresh Thai basil leaves from garden
    sea salt to taste
    black pepper to taste

    olive oil to coat veggies lightly & then add a little to bottom of pan so veggies wont stick

    I placed above ingredients in oval cast iron dish, cooked on grill beside chicken breast

    We also had fresh corn on cob, fresh tomato slices, mac & cheese –

  13. Alycia

    This was very tasty! I had to toss in a pinch of crushed red pepper, and instead of doing the slices of cheese, I grated some cheddar on top and let the heat melt it a little. A nice light supper. Thanks!

  14. Sami

    Greetings from Finland!
    What can I say? Yummy! Found a large yellow squash on the open compost and browsed the net for recipes. Took a good 10 minutes to get the liquid to evaporate before the veggies started browning, so I didn’t brown much to not totally overcook them. It was sligthly soggy but d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s on penne pasta!

  15. Claire

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious!
    Followed the recipe exactly except I used a couple handfuls
    of shredded cheddar cheese instead of slices.
    Your directions were perfect! What a great way to use up some
    of our home grown vegetables.
    This is definitely a “keeper”! I will be making this often.
    Thanks for sharing and give your Mom a hug for coming up
    with such a wonderful recipe!

  16. Jeri

    I needed a good recipe for the very last of our yellow squash. This was perfect. And so quick and easy on a hot day! Don’t you love it when you have all the ingredients to make something?! Thank you!

  17. Cathy

    I had all of these veggies straight from my garden and was very happy to come across your recipe. It was easy, quick and was a HUGE hit! Next time I might cook it in a cast iron skillet to try to brown it more, but otherwise it was soo good!
    Thank you for posting!

  18. Avery

    Tried this last night and it was SO delicious. Browning the veggies makes such a difference in the taste. One variation I did was using Romano cheese instead of cheddar; it seemed to work great.

  19. Sharna

    I was gifted some summer squash just moments before dinner and found this recipe. I had everything but the tomatoes so I just added a can of stewed tomatoes at the end. It was so WONDERFUL! My first attempt at cooking summer squash and it was delightful! Oh-I sprinkled with parmesan cheese instead of the cheese slices.

  20. Amy

    This recipe was delicious! I will definitely save this one. I made it vegan by substituting the following topping in place of the cheese slices: equal parts each (I used 1/3 cup each) panko bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, and melted butter (I used vegan Earth Balance). It’s gives a parmesan-cheesy taste.

  21. Caroline

    This recipe is delicious! I have no experience cooking squashes and tried about 6 recipes before this. All that were failures. This one was just sooo perfect! I’ve cooked it 3 times in 1.5 weeks already. I did not add cheese (I’m lactose intolerant), and used beet roots instead of green peppers (I can get local organic beet roots and I hear that peppers are among the produce with the highest amount of pesticide/insecticide/herbicide residue when bought at “big” grocery stores). It was just delicious. I always want to eat squash because it just looks sooo beautiful, but I always burnt and ruined it. Now it just tastes sooo good! I’d recommend this recipe to anyone anytime.
    Yummmmmmmmmmmmm! :D

  22. Michelle Honey

    Hi, I wanted to throw out the suggestion, since the blog author mentioned looking for ways to use up an abundance of summer squash, for those of us who have diabetes, or those who just want to reduce their carb intake, slicing zucchini thinly and using it in place of pasta, is a great way to enjoy the various pasta sauces and reduce or remove the high carb noodles. You do not boiling them like noodles, I make the sauce have it all ready and right before I’m ready to serve, I have a little olive oil, very little, in a pan, pretty hot, not smoking, and quickly stir fry the strips of squash, not to cook fully, just to cook enough to soften them, and make them hot to match the sauce. It is really a great way to enjoy ‘pasta’ and keep one’s blood sugar in the safe zone.

    This bread recipe sounds yummy and I may try it to take to share a work for those who are able to eat flour. Thanks for great recipe ideas.

  23. Ryan

    Great dish. Instead of the tomatoes I poured some tomato sauce over the dish. Will definately make again.

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