I like to eat whole foods in healthy proportions, hike, enjoy nature, and play with my two kitties.
The Unusual Pattypan Squash
Shaped like a miniature alien spaceship, the pattypan squash comes in white, yellow, and green and can be solid, mottled, or striped. What's more, it has as many names as it has color varieties:
- Scallop squash
- Sunburst squash
- Button squash
- White squash
- Granny squash
- Custard marrow
- Custard squash
The most common kinds are yellow or green. They vary in size depending on how mature they are when picked.
Pattypan squash is a type of summer squash, which you can identify by its edible skin. More information about summer squash in general can be found in the video below by Dani Spies.
Where to Find These Squash
Pattypans are not often seen in big box stores, unlike their similar-tasting brethren, zucchinis and yellow squash. They are even absent from the pages of cookbooks dedicated to the variety of vegetables in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) drop-off boxes and the volumes authored by revered vegetarian chefs.
But, thanks to blossoming farmers' markets and renewed interest in local food, the scallop squash is coming back to dinner. I recently purchased my first pattypan squash at one such farmers' market, with the advice to "stuff it."
What Do I Do With It?
Though there are no recipes in my cookbooks, there are plenty on the ever-generous Internet—this squash is as versatile as they come. From baking it in the oven to grilling it outside on the barbecue, you can prepare pattypan in a variety of ways.
It has an even texture throughout and a mild flavor, allowing you to dress it up however you want. It is very similar to summer squash; the two are interchangeable in recipes.
Below, you will find links to recipes and short descriptions of how to prepare the squash in the following ways:
- Sautéed or fried
- Baked or roasted
Pattypan is great fresh. You can add slices to a salad or eat them with a creamy dip. Here's a creative way to use it as a bowl for your dip—then, when you're finished, you can eat the bowl!
Steaming is definitely one of the simplest ways to prepare any type of squash. The squash is pricked with a fork and then put into a steam basket over a pot of water, covered, and left over boiling water until it is tender. You can check for tenderness by poking the squash with a fork. If you are short on time, cut the squash up into smaller pieces to put into the steam basket over boiling water for about five minutes.
Being one of the few without a steam basket, I have found that putting the whole squash directly into the water and simply boiling it works just as well. Mine took about 20 minutes and were about five inches across. Smaller ones will take less time, larger ones will take more time.
After you're done steaming, chop up the squash, add your favorite seasonings, and, of course, enjoy!
Sautéed or Fried
Sautéing is another quick way to prepare this squash, as is frying.
- Cut the squash into pieces with similar thicknesses for even cooking. I prefer discs myself.
- If you're frying the squash, coat it in a flour-and-egg coating.
- To prepare the pattypan using either method, heat oil up in a pan until shimmering and add the squash. Use more oil for frying, less for sautéing.
- Sauté the squash until browned on both sides or fry the squash until the coating is crisp and golden.
You can add an assortment of seasoning here, anything from Mediterranean to Indian to Asian. I am personally thinking of adding some to the next stir-fry I cook up!
- Pan Sautéed Pattypan Squash With Bacon and Cajun Spices
- Fried Pattypan Squash With Cornmeal Breading
It is hard to beat the deep flavors that grilling lends to food.
- When grilling, turn up your barbecue to 400°F.
- You can cut the squash into either slices or discs. Remove the seeds and brush one side with oil or another flavoring sauce before putting that side face down on the grill.
- Cover for five to ten minutes, then brush the second side and flip the squash, and cover again for five to ten minutes. Continue brushing with oil or sauce and flipping every five to ten minutes until the squash is golden brown.
You can put your seasonings into the oil ahead of time so the flavor is cooked into the squash.
Baked or Roasted
There are a variety of ways to bake pattypan squash. It can be chopped up, shredded into a casserole, or stuffed. The way you prepare it for baking determines the cooking time and temperature.
- Oven Roasted Pattypan Squash With Shallots and Herbs
- Simple and Savory Baked Pattypan Squash With Butter, Parmesan, and Basil
Stuffing a pattypan squash seems like the most delicious way to go. You can add protein in the form of cheese, eggs, nuts, or meat to complement the squash and make a main course out of it. If you are like me, you will find the addition of cheese very welcome indeed.
The pattypan can be softened ahead of time by another cooking method. I steamed my own for 20 minutes before cutting off the top and scooping out the innards, being careful not to break through the skin of the squash. Some recipes call for mixing back in any squash that you scoop out, while others throw the innards away. It depends on the recipe and how big the seeds inside the squash are. I had to get rid of my squash's guts due to all the seeds.
- Stuffed Pattypan Squash With Bacon and Cheese
- Pattypan Squash With Eggs
- Stuffed Pattypan Squash With Rice, Parmesan, and Spinach
As you can see, the pattypan squash is as versatile as pasta, with fewer calories: One cup contains only 38 calories.
When you choose a pattypan squash, keep in mind that the smaller ones will be more tender and take less time to cook, but they also are more difficult to stuff. If you are purchasing from a farmers' market, the vendor should be able to answer any questions when you pick them out and help you choose based on how you plan to prepare the squash.
You can also pickle pattypan squash!
- Slice your squash into 1/4-inch-thick cross sections. (If you select small enough pattypans, you can stack them in a wide-mouthed mason jar to pickle.)
- If you're pickling other fruits and vegetables with your squash, such as onions, bell peppers, or lemons, slice them as well.
- If you would like your pickles soft, blanch your vegetables in a pot of salted boiling water for two minutes, then drain them and place them in a bowl with ice to stop the cooking. Once they are cool, place them in the container you will use for pickling. Otherwise, sprinkle salt on the slices, cover and set them aside for an hour so they release excess water, then rinse them off.
- Then fill your pot with two parts vinegar (cider, white, or other) and one part water. Add any other seasonings you would like, such as peppercorns, pepper flakes, mustard seeds, celery seeds, or allspice. You can also make sweet pickles by adding sugar or maple syrup. Bring the pot to a boil, and simmer on low for 5 minutes.
- Pour the liquid over the vegetables, seal them in jars, and let them cool. Once they are completely cooled, you move them to the fridge unless you have sealed them in sterilized jars.
- The great thing is that, since you can eat pattypan squash raw, the amount of time you wait is up to you. Leave the pickles to mellow for at least two days before going for them—the longer you wait, the more mellow the flavor.
This technically isn't a way to cook squash—it's a way to prepare it to be cooked later!
- Slice your squash while boiling a pot of water.
- You'll first want to blanch the squash to kill any bacteria. Add the slices to the boiling water, and set your timer for three minutes. As you're waiting, prepare a bowl of ice water.
- When the three minutes are up, remove the squash from the boiling water and place it in the ice water to prevent it from cooking any further. When it has cooled, drain the slices thoroughly and allow them a minute or two to dry.
- Vacuum-seal the slices or place them in a Ziplock bag and remove all of the air. A handy way to do this is to zip most of the bag shut, then submerge the the entire bag except for the opening in a pot of water, so the water pressure pushes out all of the air.
- Stick the vacuum-sealed squash in the freezer, and it will be ready to add to your favorite stir fry when you need it!
More Information on Pattypan Squash
- Nutrition Facts and Analysis
Pattypan squash from your local farmers' will not come with a nutritional label, so read this online version instead.
- Pattypan Squash Nutrition Information
Learn about the vitamins and minerals in this nutritious squash.
- How to Cook Pattypan Squash
Learn how to marinate and pickle squash.
How Will You Prepare Pattypan Squash?
Do you already have plans? Share them in the comment section!