Pattypan Squash, Stuffed
September 27, 2015
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I don't so much give recipes as present suggestions. I like working with whatever I have on hand to create interesting dishes, and my goal is to encourage you to do the same. So here's the pattypan squash idea:
I had four of them from our CSA, each about three inches in diameter. Also, I had harvested part of our (minuscule) kale crop that day and was determined to salvage and use the pencil-thick stems rather than discarding them as I sometimes (lazily) do.
In a skillet I heated olive oil then threw in half a medium onion, chopped, and a large clove of garlic, minced. I let these cook slowly while I cut the kale stems (about ten or twelve in all) into half-inch lengths. These I added to the onion/garlic mixture along with a couple tablespoons of water. I turned the heat to low and clapped a lid on the skillet.
While the stems were cooking I halved the pattypan squash crosswise, cutting tiny slices from the stem and blossom ends so the halves would sit flat on their bottoms. With a grapefruit spoon I removed the center from each squash half. You can remove as much or as little as you like, but the idea is to create a cavity large enough for a stuffing while leaving the shell sufficiently thick to allow the squash to keep its shape when cooked. You can use an ordinary spoon or a small paring knife to hollow out the squash, but a little grapefruit spoon, with its serrated edges, is absolutely perfect.
Chop the squash innards you just dug out and add them to the pan with the kale stems. Cook for another three or four minutes, by which time the kale stems should be tender. Check them for tenderness by fishing one out of the pan, blowing on it, and eating it. If they need longer cooking, set the timer for a few minutes longer then check again.
Put the filling into the squash cavities with a teaspoon.
Now, normally I would top these with crumbs and cheese and bake them until the pattypan squashes were tender. But the temperature was 100 degrees on the day I was making these, and I didn't want to overburden the air conditioner by turning on the oven. So here's how I cooked the dish: I carefully placed the stuffed squash halves back into the same skillet (no need to clean it first) and added water to the depth of a third of an inch. I brought this to a boil then lowered the heat, covered the pan, and let it cook for fifteen minutes.
You could eat it at this point. But I still like the idea of a crumb/cheese topping. So I turned on the broiler. While it heated I mixed fine bread crumbs with freshly grated parmesan cheese in a small bowl, then spooned this over the squash stuffing and dribbled the crumbs with olive oil. Three or four minutes under the broiler melted the cheese and crisped the crumbs. (Note that the picture shows the naked stuffed squash, before I added the topping.)
The little squashes were delicious. I served them with the kale leaves I had harvested that morning, steamed with garlic and dressed with olive oil.