Kat Barry: Pattypan squash adds variety to summer veggies

Published 7:46 am Friday, August 2, 2013

The other day, I posted a photo of some local summer squash I’d purchased on social media. My friend, Meredith, was curious about the round, yellow, toy top-shaped squash next to the zucchini. That’s when I realized that some might not be familiar with pattypan squash.

Pattypan squash is a small summer squash with scalloped edges shaped sort of like a flying saucer. I was first introduced to it about four years ago when my friend Courtney received one in her CSA. She made a delicious saute dish topped with truffle oil that I paired with a lentil salad. It was around this time that I was getting into heirloom varieties and shopping almost exclusively at the farmers market in the summer. From that point, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for pattypans since they add a nice variety to the typical summer squash spectrum.

Prepare pattypan squash in the same fashion as other squash, by sauteing, roasting or grilling. Some might see the shape of the veggie a challenge for slicing, but just go with what works for the dish you’re making. As a general rule, I try to keep the veggies I’m sauteing or cooking together the same basic size to ensure even cooking. I find that using simple seasoning on pattypan and summer squash dishes in general works best to highlight their delicious, juicy flavor. Lemon juice, fresh herbs, some light red pepper and, sometimes, even truffle oil work best to maximize the squash.

If you want to add richness and complexity to the taste of your dish, use tahini dressing and turmeric as I have in the following quick-and-easy recipe. I cooked this late one night after some long hours and ate it hot, then tossed with radishes and green onions for a cold lunch salad the next day. You could also serve it over a bed of lettuce.

Curried Summer Squash

Serves 4

½ tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
4 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped carrots, (about 6 carrots)
2 pattypan squash, quartered and sliced
1 large zucchini, halved and sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh basil
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt
Black pepper
Splash of vegetable broth or water
A dollop of tahini dressing for serving
chopped heirloom radishes and green onions for serving (about 2 tablespoons each per bowl)

Begin by heating the oil in a deep saute pan over low until warm. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes at medium to medium low before adding the carrots.
Cook the garlic and carrots together for about five minutes, until the carrots become tender.
Add the squash and dried seasoning. After you stir in the spices, you should add a splash of vegetable stock to deglaze the pan. Turn the heat up to medium to medium high and saute until the squash become tender, about 5 more minutes. The water or broth should pretty much cook off by now.
Stir in the fresh herbs and allow them to just wilt, only cooking for another minute or two.
Stir in a 1/4 to 1/3 cup tahini dressing, spoon into bowls and top with chopped radishes and green onion.
Cook’s tip: Place leftovers in lunch-size containers and toss for a healthy lunch on the go.