Sautéed Summer Squash with Basil and Parmesan

published Jul 28, 2022
Sautéed Summer Squash with Basil and Parmesan Recipe

Learn how to pan sear yellow summer squash perfectly every time.


Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Credit: Laura Rege

This time of year, yellow summer squash is everywhere — overflowing in both our gardens and farmers markets. This versatile and easy-to-cook vegetable can be grilled, roasted, air fried, served raw, sautéed, and more. A quick pan-sear in a hot skillet is our current favorite approach and one we hope you’ll try too. Here’s how.

How Do You Cut Yellow Squash?

Yellow squash has a slightly rounder bottom and thinner neck than its summer squash sidekick, zucchini, but you cut it the exact same way. Just trim off the stem end and then slice or dice into rounds or cubes. When it comes to rounds, you will have varying sizes (you could halve the larger rounds to get similar sizes, but it sort of all works out when you get the squash into the pan). The smaller rounds might be a touch more tender, but the varying textures can be nice — the best food isn’t always perfect, especially at home, despite what restaurant chefs might say. 

How Do You Cook Yellow Squash?

Now that the squash is prepped, here is how you cook it! 

  1. Preheat the pan & add fat: Start by preheating the pan. It should be hot enough that the food starts to sizzle and cook right away, which usually takes about two minutes. Before you add the squash, heat the fat in the pan. For extra flavor, we use cook the sliced squash in both oil and butter, although this recipe can be prepared with just olive oil if desired. The idea behind using both is that the oil helps prevent the butter from burning over the higher heat and the butter contributes nutty, rich flavor.
  2. Do not overcrowd the pan: Add the sliced squash to the pan and season it right away with salt and pepper. You can add more seasoning later to taste, but for now, use just enough so it has some time to soak in. Resist the temptation to overcrowd the pan. There should be enough slices to cover the bottom of the pan with a bit of overlapping, but not much more; otherwise you will end up with steamed rather than sautéed squash. 
  3. Cook, tossing, then check for doneness: Cook, tossing the squash a few times to make sure every piece has a bit of undisturbed time touching the bottom of the pan. Once the squash is golden and tender, it’s done!
  4. Add more flavor: The pan-seared squash is tasty on its own, but it becomes a more cohesive dish with the addition of complementary flavors. Push the squash to the side of the skillet and add minced garlic to the other side along with red pepper flakes, cooking until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Toss to combine, remove from the heat, and finish with toasted nuts for crunch, chopped herbs and lemon juice for brightness, and Parmesan for a salty kick.

Do You Cook Yellow Squash with the Skin On?

Yes, absolutely! They’re no need to waste the pretty skin by peeling it. It adds a beautiful pop of color to the plate.

Sautéed Summer Squash with Basil and Parmesan Recipe

Learn how to pan sear yellow summer squash perfectly every time.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2

    medium yellow squash (about 1 pound total)

  • 2 cloves


  • 1

    medium scallion

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 2 tablespoons

    pine nuts

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • Pinch

    red pepper flakes

  • 5

    large fresh basil leaves

  • 1 small (about 1/2-ounce) piece

    Parmesan cheese


  1. Trim 2 medium yellow squash and thinly slice crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds (about 4 cups). Finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Thinly slice 1 medium scallion crosswise (about 2 tablespoons). Juice 1/2 medium lemon until you have 1 tablespoon.

  2. Place 2 tablespoons pine nuts in a large frying pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted and light golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

  3. Melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the squash in an even layer and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until the squash is tender and light golden-brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Push the squash to one side of the pan. Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the other side and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is light golden-brown and fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss with the squash and remove the pan from the heat. Add the pine nuts, scallion, and lemon juice, and toss to combine.

  5. Transfer to a serving bowl. Tear 5 large fresh basil leaves into bite-sized pieces and scatter over the squash. Using a vegetable peeler, shave about 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over the squash.

Recipe Notes

Pine nut substitute: Use any chopped nut, such as pistachios, almonds, or cashews in place of the pine nuts.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.