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PattyPan©StephenKolyer

I’m always drawn to summer’s sweet little patty pan squashes – the colors are so vibrant and the shape so flowery. The one problem with them is that they don’t have a lot of flavor. Many years ago when we had a take-out food shop, I would buy teeny tiny ones from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania and then pickle them to add some zest. The little flower shapes would look so inviting in the canning jar and were terrific out of it as a garnish for cold meats. When I want to cook them, I usually slice or cube them and sauté in butter or extra virgin olive oil. Just when the squashes have squeezed out all that almost-tasteless liquid and have begun to brown, I add some fresh garlic, lemon zest, and basil – season with salt and pepper and toss for a couple of minutes. Then, I serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. Tasteless they will not be!

 

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I love the look of pattypan squash and I can never resist buying a few when I see them at the farmers market.  I particularly love the what-I-guess are hybrids with shades of yellow and green undulating around their scalloped edges.  Years ago, when we had the first take-out store featuring only American products, I would trek over to Pennsylvania Amish country to purchase absolutely beautiful baby pattypan which I would then pickle.  The tiny flower-like squash looked so delicate in the sweet-sour pickling liquid that I sold them as quickly as I could put them up.

I bought just a couple the other day as we have been so glued to the work computer that no canning was on the horizon – just a light summer supper.  I made a quick sauté which we had with grilled chicken.  I think you will enjoy it, too.

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 pattypan squash, trimmed and thinly sliced

¼ cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon tomato paste

4 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

½ teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  When very hot, add the squash without crowding the pan – this may have to be done in batches.  Reduce the heat and fry, turning occasionally, until brown around the edges but still a bit firm.

When all of the squash has been browned, add the chicken stock and tomato paste to the pan.  Raise the heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the butter and herbs, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Add the orange zest and serve.

If you have any on hand, pitted black olives make a great last minute addition.  Take a handful and blanch them in boiling water for a minute, drain well, and pat dry.  Cut into slivers and add to the squash along with the orange zest.  Just remember to go easy on the salt if you’re following this route.

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