One of our more unique summer vegetables, the pattypan squash makes even the most picky eater smile. Its flying saucer shape with scalloped edges and toy-like size entices kids to eat their vegetables.
Their name is derived from the French pâtisson — a cake baked in a scalloped baking pan — and they come in yellow, white, and green varieties. The pattypan is most tender when it is two or three inches in diameter, and they are usually harvested when they are young.
The pattypan squash has a buttery flavor that many think tastes more like olive oil. This mild flavor makes the pattypan very versatile and suitable in a variety of dishes. The soft flesh is often scooped out, combined with other ingredients, and stuffed back in for a savory baked squash.
While less common in our collective cooking repertoire than zucchini yellow squash, the pattypan has been a part of the North American diet for several hundred years. Northeastern tribes grew the heirloom white scallop variety as early as 1591. Our early colonists considered the pattypan one of the best-tasting and best-yielding squashes.
Using pattypan squash
While the smaller, younger pattypan squash is the most tender, the larger ones are still very good to use in your recipes. They will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. Pattypan squash are easy to use. There is no need to peel them, just treat them like other summer squash varieties.
There are many ways to prepare pattypan squash. You can slice the larger ones into disks and grill them with pizza toppings — the squash becomes the pizza crust. Slice them and prepare them just like preparing eggplant for parmesan and smother with red pasta sauce.
Smaller ones can be sliced and pickled or pickled whole. Slices can be breaded and pan fried. Slice or chop them for casseroles and soups. Steam, bake, or boil them, just be sure to poke them a few times with a fork or the tip of a knife to release any pressure while cooking. You can also eat them raw. Just add them to salads or as part of a vegetable tray. Scoop out the inside and use the pattypan as a bowl for your dip … then eat the squash, too!
Freeze pattypan squash by blanching it first to remove any bacteria. Place slices in boiling water for about three minutes, then shock the squash in an ice bath. Place the squash in airtight freezer containers and freeze for up to a year. Frozen squash is best used in cooked recipes.
You may not see pattypan at the grocery store very often, but you will find this fun vegetable at local farmers markets.
Niki Davis is the creator of Rooted in Foods food heritage blog. You can find her at www.rootedinfoods.com.