Summer squashes, zucchini included, are some of the most enjoyable vegetables of the summer season. I love them in all manner and form. I no longer grow them in my garden because they simply take up too much real estate, spreading all over and wreaking havoc on the other vegetables. But I now steadily buy them at farmers' markets and stands. My favorite place to buy them has lately been Sherwood Farm in Easton, CT. There I can get many of the summer varieties including these funny looking pattypan squash.
My favorite way to enjoy all kinds of squashes is to stuff and bake them. My choice of filling includes pork sausage and rice. I typically stuff large overgrown zucchini, but when I saw these pattypans, I just knew I had to use them in this recipe. Their round and conical shape lends them to stuffing easily, especially when they can be cut right through the waist to create little bowls. This recipe for stuffed pattypans works wonderful as an appetizer. This dish is a great way to celebrate the bounties of late summer.
Pattypan squash are uniquely shaped, almost like little flying saucers or toy tops. They are very delicate and can be eaten raw when sliced very thin or simply steamed or sautéed. Pattypans belong to the same family as yellow squash and zucchini, which are all known as summer squash. The main difference between summer squash and winter squash is their skin. Summer squashes have tender skin, whereas winter squashes have a tough skin. Winter squashes, harvested in late summer, can be stored for long lengths of time going into winter. Summer squashes are grown during the height of summer and should be eaten soon after picking. But nowadays you can get them all year in supermarkets.
Pork and Rice-Stuffed Pattypan Squash
6 pattypan squash
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Italian pork sausage, casings removed
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 medium to large tomato, seeded, diced, liquid reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup cooked white rice
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Fit a large pot with a steamer basket, add water just up to the basket, and bring to a boil. Add pattypan squash, cover, and steam until knife tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let squash cool to the touch. Trim the stem and cut crosswise. Using a spoon, hollow out the inside and discard seeds and pulp. Set squash halves in a baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Warm a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add pork and cook until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, fresh tomato, and wine. Simmer until liquid has reduced, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rice, breadcrumbs, and parsley.
Fill squash halves with meat mixture. Top each with a mound of shredded Parmesan. Bake until heated through and cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Set under the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking time for a crispy cheese crust. Yield: 6 appetizer servings.