I have a lot to share with you this week, so be patient with my long post. Digest it in bits and pieces if you must, but don’t miss out–I discuss everything from preparing patty pan squash to freezing cucumbers (yes, you read that right!)
CSA Tip–bring a sturdy box or container for your tomatoes
Every year I relearn this simple technique. Bring a low sided box or container to transport your tomatoes and you will be rewarded with beautiful tomatoes that last through the week. Try to stick them in a bag and you will get bruised or smashed tomatoes that make marinara in your bags and that spoil quickly. Boo hoo!
I admit it, when it comes to the squash bin, I tend to go for the typical summer squash and leave behind the patty pan. It is not that I don’t like patty pan squash. I think they are adorable and fun, like edible flying saucers! I guess I’ve been under the impression that I can’t prepare or serve patty pan like regular squash. Yet, if I stop and think about it, is there really any truth to this? Let’s check it out.
Can you slice and saute patty pan? Check. Can you cut and roast it? Check. Can you grill it? Check. Can you stuff it? Check. So, really, what is my problem here? Not only can these cute veggies be cooked like any other summer squash, they can be used in their own unique ways as well. For example they can be pickled whole, grilled whole on a shish kabob, or scooped out and used raw as a sweet looking container for dip. It’s clear. It is time for me, and for any you who relate to me on this, to get over it. So this week I decided to look into patty pan a little more closely so that I can help us break out of this silly resistance and start having fun with these guys. I don’t have a lot of experience with patty pan squash so I did some research on the Internet. Here is what I discovered.
Patty pan are just another variety of summer squash, with sub-varieties within them that can yield different colors. They can be striped, dark green, light green, white, or yellow. They are most tender and succulent when they are small and young, getting a bit tougher and drier as they grow larger. The smallest ones, termed baby patty pan squash, are often served in their whole forms. Larger squash are typically used interchangeably with other summer squash varieties and are easily sliced, shredded, spiralized, or chopped and can even be stuffed like your larger zucchini. Like other summer squash, patty pans are edible from skin to seeds.
Not surprisingly, patty pan squash confer the same health benefits as summer squash; notably they are high in vitamin C and important minerals and anti-oxidants, are a good source of fiber, are low calorie and contain no fat. Research is beginning to suggest that the anti-oxidant properties in summer squash may be protective against cancer, diabetes, and age related eye problems like macular degeneration (World’s Healthiest Foods).
Patty pans can be eaten raw or cooked. Serve smaller ones whole or slice larger ones and serve on a crudité platter. Or as I mentioned above, scoop out most of the insides of a larger patty pan and use it as a container for dip. Grate it and add it to salads, or use it sliced or grated on sandwiches, in wraps, or as a taco topping. You could even make slaw with grated patty pan tossed with your favorite dressing.
There are several ways to cook patty pan squash. For baby patty pan, keep them whole and stick them on a shish kabob or grill them on a grill pan. Roast them in the oven tossed with some olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs. Whole baby patty pan can even be sautéed in a pan, but it helps to add a bit of liquid and to cover them for part of the time to help them cook through. For large patty pan, the sky is the limit. Slice, chop or grate and use as you would any summer squash (casseroles, soups). Stuffed patty pan are especially adorable.
Here are some fun recipes I came across for patty pan squash:
- Roasted Summer Squashes with Caper Gremolata (click here)
- Patty Pan Squash with Egg (its like a toad in the hole!) (click here)
- Simple Garlic and Herb Patty Pan Squash (click here)
- Patty Pan Stuffed with Orzo and Basil (click here)
More Ideas for Eggplant, Summer Squash, and Cucumbers
We are in a bit of a holding pattern at the farm. Sadly, some crops that did well last year aren’t faring as well this season like melons and the PYO green beans (we’ll have a few so get them while they are available). So we are likely to be seeing more of the same in our shares this week—eggplant, zucchini/summer squash and cucumbers, oh my!. However, now that the tomatoes are flowing that allows for a whole different array of dishes than in weeks past. So don’t you dare get bored. Here are some ideas and recipes for these CSA staples:
If you haven’t tried it, quick picking is a well known way to use summer squash and cucumbers. But did you know you can pickle eggplant too?
- General guidelines for quick pickling click here
- Pickled Eggplant click here or here (Fairy Tale eggplant)
If you are just too sick of them, summer squash, eggplant, and cucumbers (and even cucumber pickles) can be frozen and used later in many kinds of dishes. Note that cucumbers frozen without a brine will be mushy once defrosted but are great used in dips, soups, smoothies and juices.
- Zucchini/summer squash click here
- Eggplant click here
- Cucumbers click here
- Frozen pickles click here
Make Chips or Fries
I love squash and eggplant chips or fries for snacking and entertaining. Here are my favorite recipes.
- Middle Eastern Flavored Eggplant Chips click here
- Ranch Flavored Zucchini Chips click here
- Best Ever Eggplant Fries click here
Still need more inspiration? Here are some new Simply Fresh recipes to tempt your palate:
I originally developed this recipe as a dinner party appetizer, but I realized it would work just as well as a casserole main course. If you wish to bake it and serve it as a main course, you may want to double the spiced tomato sauce in order to have enough sauce to cover your roll-ups.
– 3 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
– 3 teaspoons finely minced shallot
– 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– dash pepper
– 1 teaspoon lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, chopped
– 1-2 large, straight zucchini, summer squash or eggplant
– 6-8 thin slices prosciutto, optional
– 1/2 pound ripe tomatoes, about 2 medium
– 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
– 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling tomatoes
– 1/2 teaspoon honey
– pinch ground cinnamon
- Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice zucchini or eggplant into thin strips (if serving as an appetizer, make them about 1/8” thick, if using them as a main dish, make them thicker, about 1/4”). Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on a grill pan, roast or broil in the oven, or cook on the grill (be careful, thin slices cook very fast and burn easily. You want the pieces to be tender and pliable, but not charred and dried out). Lay slices on a work surface.
- Beat goat cheese with shallots, basil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice until well mixed. Mix in pine nuts. Taste for salt level and adjust as desired.
- Cut slices of prosciutto to fit the cooked zucchini or eggplant slices and lay them on top. Carefully spread a thin layer of the goat cheese mixture over the prosciutto (if not using the prosciutto, just put the goat cheese mixture directly on the vegetables slices). Roll the slices up and cut them in half if too large (you may want to do this if serving the rolls as an appetizer). For an appetizer, place rolls cut side down on a serving platter. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate until ready to serve. If making a casserole, place uncut rolls seam side down in a small greased casserole dish and set aside until the sauce is ready.
- Preheat oven to 400℉. Grease a rimmed baking sheet. Cut tomatoes horizontally in half. Place them cut side up, along with the whole garlic cloves, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and juices start running. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. If desired, remove skin from tomatoes. Place tomato pulp in a blender. Squeeze out or peel garlic and add to the blender, along with 1 tablespoon basil, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon honey, and a pinch of cinnamon. Blend until smooth. Either use as a dipping sauce for the rolls as an appetizer, or pour over the rolls in the casserole dish.
- If baking the rolls as a casserole, pour sauce over rolls and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly.
I love a simple cucumber salad tossed with shallots or onion, dried dill, and white vinegar. However, I’ve recently become bored of that combo so I developed this version using my trusty Pan Asian Flavor Profile I shared with you last week. Watch out, this salad is positively addictive.
– 2 med/large cucumbers, peeled (optional) and sliced
– 1 med shallot, minced
– 1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce (I use Red Boat brand)
– 1/4 cup rice vinegar
– 1 teaspoon cold pressed sesame oil
– 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Toss cucumbers with all ingredients in a medium bowl. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Serve. Keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 days.