SC Squash is Simply Perfect, Simply Fresh on the Menu at Roastfish & Cornbread on Hilton Head Island

Squash plant

The squash plan in it's 'natural habitat'...the backyard garden!

Could there be a more versatile or easily grown-at-home vegetable than the squash? Specifically I am referring to the summer squash and zucchini squash which I grew up tending in my parent’s backyard garden. We started ours from seed, sowed in “hills” along the far end of the garden in mid to late April (depending on what my Dad said was the best plating date, which he determined after consulting the holy grail of gardening – the Farmers Almanac). We all got into the farming spirit on planting day – starting early in morning, the earth still cool and damp underfoot with my Dad decked out in his work pants, old straw hat and worn work gloves – quite the opposite of the business suit he donned during the work week. With Mom “supervising” (there was never a lack of instruction, believe me) and my Dad humming or whistling a tune (usually gospel or Elvis) we made short work of it and before the sun could reach it’s highest point we were done for the day, lunch waiting on the screened porch.

Within a few days the seeds sprouted, followed by green clumps perched on each “hill”. A few days later, the plants would spread out runners, their broad leaves covering the ground so thickly it would be difficult to tell where one plant ended and another began.  Soon the burgeoning blooms offered up little yellow and green prizes – the first squash of the season. For a young’in it was a thrill to trot out to the garden first thing in the morning, searching for the treasure that lay underneath the massive growth that seemed to envelope the garden overnight. Maybe there would even be a gargantuan squash – one that was previously overlooked and morphed into a giant – fun for us kids but disconcerting for my mother. There’s no way to adequately prepare a monster squash and make it deliciously edible, at least not amongst the dozen or so methods my Mom had mastered. Even today I don’t have a clue what to do with them other than use as a table centerpiece or maybe a doorstop.

But I digress. Squash is a vegetable I love to cook and eat, and a simple preparation is usually best when its origin is local – if not your own garden then the local farmers market. Of the many restaurants on Hilton Head Island that serve locally grown produce and products, David Young’s Roastfish & Cornbread offers a plethora of variety especially during the spring and summer months.

Chef David tells me that his menus are inspired by his travels – the mid-west US, Africa, Caribbean, traditional South and the local Gullah/Lowcountry cultures are all represented in his cooking techniques and ingredient choices. He is a native Hilton Head Islander and like me, he grew up eating and cooking with the bounty of a backyard garden. The ultimate goal for his restaurant is to offer “foods that are as fresh as can be” – preparing them simply so the robust flavors of the ingredients illuminate the palate. Chef David uses only olive oil (no butter!), all natural lamb and beef products and every wine he serves is from Organic/Biodynamic/ Sustainable Wineries to ensure a healthy dining experience. Roastfish & Cornbread is also notable for its array of creative vegetarian dishes such as the Ultimate Vegetarian Po-Boy, Sweet Potato Hummus with Cucumbers, Celery, Carrots and New York Flat Bread and Baby Portobello’s Stuffed with Ethiopian Tomato Salad.

While visiting the Island make a stop at Roastfish & Cornbread for a delicious and unique culinary experience you won’t soon forget. While their menu changes somewhat with the season and the availability of produce and seafood, you will always find Chef David’s preparations creative and perfectly fit for the ingredients in season. Maybe he’ll even have some awesome SC squash for noshing – in the meantime here’s his recipe for Stewed Squash, the perfect accompaniment for fish, poultry, and roasted meats or simply on its own. Yum!

Roastfish & Cornbread Stewed Squash

Zucchini and Yellow squash

Zucchini and Yellow squash

1 Onion
1 Green pepper (As many or little as you like)
1 Red pepper (As many or little as you would like)
2 Yellow squash cut into large chunks
1 Large Zucchini squash cut into large chunks
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cups of water

Saute onion until lightly caramelized. Add squash and zucchini  and brown lightly on both sides. Add Peppers. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour in water. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.