Summer squash come in many shapes and sizes, including the flying saucer scallops of patty pans. Like other summer squash such as zucchini and yellow squash, patty pans can be enjoyed raw, in salads or as crudité to serve with dips and spreads. Enjoy patty pans during the height of summer, when they are optimally fresh and available at your local farmers' market.
Age and Size
Small, young patty pans are most tender, and most suitable for eating raw. Their flavor is also more delicate than fully mature, larger patty pans, and therefore better for showcasing in a raw dish. Small paw patty pans can be enjoyed whole or cut simply enough to still showcase their unique shape. When serving older patty pans raw, it is best to grate them. The thin shreds will mask any toughness and you don't sacrifice much visually because even bite-size pieces of large patty pans don't show off the distinctive scalloped shape.
Patty Pan Freshness
Fresh patty pans have a crisp texture and a bright, clean flavor. As the picked squash ages, it's texture becomes softer and soggier, and its flavor can even grow bitter. Older patty pans are fine for cooked dishes, where heat and seasoning can cover imperfections, but raw patty pans should be served when they're as fresh as possible. Raw recipes rely on freshness for flavor, and are less forgiving when ingredients are past their primes.
Seasoning Raw Patty Pans
Season raw patty pans simply, to show off their bright flavor and firm texture. Use lemon juice and garlic, or basil and tomato. Avoid strong spices such as curry powder, allspice or cloves because they overwhelm the delicate patty pan flavor. Marinate grated patty pans for five minutes, and marinate bite-sized pieces for about twenty minutes, long enough for them to absorb flavors without growing soggy.
Cooking Patty Pans
Although patty pans can be eaten raw, they are most commonly served cooked. To cook patty pans, cut them in bite-size pieces and saute them with onion, garlic, tomato and fresh basil, as you would with zucchini or yellow squash. Alternately, stuff baby patty pans by blanching them for a minute, scooping out the centers, and filling them with your favorite pilaf. Patty pans are also excellent grilled, and you can slice them in scalloped rounds to show off their unique shape.
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