Monday, September 2

The Prolific Patty Pan

My husband likes to joke about the tower of patty pans on the kitchen table. "They're going to displace us from our home!" he exclaimed.  It's true!  Despite my best efforts to pass them on to friends and family, the tower keeps growing!  When you have this many patty pans you have to get creative.

A patty pan is a summer squash, like zucchini, only cuter.   Like an eclectic little bowl or a flying saucer.  Often they're golden yellow, like a burst of sunshine, but I like to plant this creamy white variety.  They are just so pretty!  Patty pan squash is cooked the same as zucchini, and they are just as prolific.  In the garden, they grow faster than I can cut them!  Despite this, and in spite of the fact that I'm completely sick of them at the end of the season, I plant them, once again, every spring - Never fail.  They're a symbol of late summer days, welcome or not.

I've spent the last few weeks cooking my way through the mountain.  Calabacitas and patty pan fries.  Breaded patty pan Parmesan, topped with a fried egg and my favourite jarred marinara.  And, my husband would be despondent if I didn't make several batches of these patty pan spice muffins.  They're studded with cranberries and fill the house with the aroma of Autumn.  I was running out of recipe ideas and, dare I say, even the desire to cook my way through the tower, when I happened to walk past the TV as David Rocco was adding eggplant to his pasta al forno.  A light bulb went on in my head - patty pan pasta al forno.   Another summer squash recipe at this time of year is always welcome.

Pasta al Forno is simply oven baked pasta.  The pasta is soft and oozing with cheese and the top is baked to a crispy, golden crunch.  I like to bake this in a thin layer in a large pan so that everyone gets a bit of the crunchy top.  It's a crowd pleaser, and so easy!

And let me take a moment to tell you about Calabacitas.  Naturally, I can't have a pile of squash lying around without making it.  This classic Mexican casserole is traditionally made with zucchini, and queso fresco.  Mine was full of patty pan, non-gmo corn, smokey green chili, and sharp cheddar cheese.  This is a dish that stirs up vivid memories of my childhood spent wandering in the mountains of New Mexico.

So, you can see the prolific patty pan has indeed taken over my kitchen, as is only natural at this time of year.  Of course, you can substitute zucchini for the patty pan in every one of these recipes.  Here's to the end of summer harvest!

Patty Pan Spice Muffins

2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries (Craisins are peanut-free)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
2 eggs
2 cups shredded patty pan squash (or zucchini)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C).  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and line with paper liners.  I spray the liners, too, to keep the muffins from sticking.  In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.  Add the cranberries and toss to coat with flour.  In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, butter, eggs, patty pan, and vanilla.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until all the ingredients are moist.  Divide the batter between the twelve muffin cups.  Bake 28 - 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Pasta al Forno with patty pan, kale, and tomatoes

1 lb campanelle pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 large stems of organic Kale, (ribs removed) chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium patty pan squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
the leaves from 1 large stem of fresh basil (approx. 8 - 10 leaves), chopped
15 oz can organic tomato sauce
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta as directed.  Drain the pasta 1 minute before package directions.

Meanwhile, in a very large skillet heat the olive oil.  Add the kale and cook until wilted.  Add the garlic, squash, and tomatoes.  Cook until the tomatoes are soft and start to loose their shape.  Pour in the tomato sauce and fill the empty can half-way full of water.  Swish this around and pour into the pan.  Stir in the basil.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Stir the pasta into the sauce and stir in half the mozzarella.  Pour the pasta into the pan and top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the cheese on top is crisp and brown.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large patty pan (or 2 zucchini or yellow summer squash) cut into bite-size chunks
1 cup frozen corn (organic, non-gmo)
1 4oz can diced green chilies
1 cup grated cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).  Spray a two quart casserole with nonstick spray.  Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Cook the onions and garlic (with a pinch of salt so they don't burn) in the oil until they are soft.  Add the patty pan and a large pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occassionally until the squash begins to soften.  Add the corn and green chilies and cook until the corn is defrosted.  Pour the vegetables into the baking dish and stir in the cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for 35 - 40 minutes.

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