Nope. Not alien spaceships.
Patty Pan. The UFO of the summer squash family.
Though I have been invaded by them, as you can see. Reliable, easy to grow and astonishingly productive, these are a wonderful alternative to the more humdrum green courgette. And, most importantly, they taste divine – buttery, sweet and without the unpleasant bitterness so common amongst the cucurbit family when left to grow to the size of a rugby ball (or in this case, a dinner plate).
Use them just as you would a courgette in stews, ratatouille, grilled on the bbq, popped in a veggie curry etc. Or try these two quick suppers:
Patty Pan Soup
- 2 patty pans no bigger than your face
- 1 clove of garlic
- the very best olive oil money (or your money at least) can buy
- parmesan – ditto
- 1/2 lemon
- Handful of fresh herbs
Finely slice the patty pan, making sure to avoid the seeds in the centre (crunchy:not pleasant eating) and crush the garlic to a paste. Heat a good glut of olive oil in a pan, add the patty pan and garlic then clamp a lid on. You’re aiming to cook the veg as quickly as you can without browning it or burning the posh olive oil so shake it often and watch it closely.
As soon as the patty pan are just soft, remove from the heat, add a teacup of water and blitz with a hand blender. Add more water gradually until you achieve a smooth, silky consistency. Season with salt, pepper, herbs, a good handful of parmesan and a squeeze of lemon.
(This also works with any summer squash or courgette but, if using green courgettes, make sure they’re tiddlers or the soup will taste bitter.)
Stuffed Patty Pan
I find 2 patty pan will serve 2 proper gluttons and since there’s no set recipe, I will describe the basic procedure and then just add whatever’s in the fridge:
Cut the top off the squash and scoop out a good hole in the middle. Drizzle with oil, season and roast in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is just cooked all the way through.
Meanwhile make your filling. I start with a sweated onion and garlic base, then add pretty much whatever I can find. Usually some pork product (in this picture, chorizo). Often mushrooms, chopped and added to the sweated onions to cook down. I’ve chucked in a few tomatoes too, but not many as it will make the filling wet. You will also need to add some sort of small pasta. I like orzo. And herbs. Lots. And of course cheese: mozzarella is my staple but goats cheese is pleasant too.
Whatever you choose, you want a stiff, dense mix which you then pack into your cooked squash, top with parmesan and pop back in the oven or under a grill to brown for a few minutes.
Proper stodgy allotment grub.
Incidentally, on the allotment – look at this for a harvest:
And all from just one visit. If anyone needs a cucumber, do let me know.
Or a patty pan for that matter…