We are in peak season for summer squash and juicy tomatoes.  Chefs are putting their skills to the test and coming up with some very delicious, healthy and creative dishes using these two key farm fresh ingredients.  This Provençal summer dish is delightful as a starter or as a side dish with fish, chicken or cooked grains.

FRIED SUMMER SQUASH WITH TOMATOES and BASIL

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds medium or small zucchini or other summer squash, thinly sliced or diced (depending on what shape squash you use)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound ripe tomatoes, grated on the large holes of a box grater, or peeled, seeded and diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped or slivered fresh basil (to taste)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy skillet. Add the zucchini. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan, until the zucchini is lightly seared and beginning to soften, three to five minutes. Remove from the pan, and set aside.

2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, then the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until fragrant — less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have begun to cook down, about five minutes. Return the zucchini to the pan, add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is tender and translucent and the tomatoes have cooked down to a fragrant sauce. Stir in the basil, and taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from the heat and serve hot, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.

Yield: Serves four to six.

Advance preparation: You can make this a day or two ahead of time. Keep refrigerated, and reheat gently on top of the stove. The dish is also good cold, doused with a little lemon juice.

Nutritional information per serving (four servings): 111 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 10 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 20 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste), 3 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (six servings): 74 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 7 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 13 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste), 2 grams protein

Martha Rose Shulman is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

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