Pattypan Squash

In Season

September 21, 2005|By Donna Pierce | Donna Pierce,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Although some describe it as resembling a miniature flying saucer, pattypan squash is named for the tiny pattypan tins used to bake miniature English tarts and pies. Pattypan, like all summersquash varieties, is distinguished from winter squash by the stage of maturity it reaches before being harvested - not by the season of ripening.

In The Compleat Squash: A Passionate G r o w e r ' s Guide to Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds, Amy Goldman describes pattypan, zucchini and other summer squash as those being ready for harvesting within one week of flowering. Because of this, they are thin-skinned with soft, immature and edible seeds. By contrast, winter squash such as acorn, butternut and Hubbard are harvested after developing thick skins and mature (often inedible) seeds.

Donna Pierce writes for the Chicago Tribune.

BUYING - - You'll find a variety of sizes and colors. Sunbursts are a yellow hybrid; tiny scaloppine are dark green. You can mix and match colors when cooking, but purchase similar-sized pieces so they'll be done at the same time. (Keep in mind that the smallest are the most tender.)

STORING - - Store in the refrigerator vegetable bin for up to five days.

COOKING - - A very simple preparation works well to highlight pattypan's delicate, buttery flavor. Slices cut crosswise can be basted with olive oil and grilled.We steamed coarsely chopped pieces in the test kitchen until fork-tender.

Seasoned with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper and tossed with olive oil, they couldn't have been easier or more delicious. For tiny pattypan squash, trim both ends and steam whole. The larger ones can be stuffed with a filling.

NUTRITION - - Summer squash is a great source of magnesium, niacin and vitamins A and C.

One cup of summer squash contains just 36 calories and zero fat.

Extracts from squash have been found to help reduce symptoms of certain prostate-related diseases in men.

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

6 servings

6 pattypan squash, stem and blossom removed

6 slices bacon

1/2 cup diced onion

1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until a fork can pierce the skin with little resistance. Drain, and slice off the top of the squash. Use a melon baller to carefully scoop out the centers of the squash. Reserve all of the bits of squash.

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Remove bacon to paper towels and set aside. Saute onion in bacon drippings. Chop the reserved squash pieces and saute them with the onion for 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in the bread crumbs. Crumble the bacon and stir into the stuffing along with the parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff each squash to overflowing with the mixture, and place them in a baking dish. Cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven or until squash are heated through.

Per serving: 215 calories; 6 grams protein; 18 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 22 milligrams cholesterol; 408 milligrams sodium

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