How an overgrown pattypan found happiness.
Every year I grow pattypan squash, and while in some years the garden yields none, this year the production was high, bordering on oppressive. Many people like to pick them when they are tiny and quickly saute them, and I like that too. But catching them at that stage can be difficult. They grow so quickly that it's disconcerting.
Then if you go on vacation, all bets are off. One week in Quebec, and suddenly there are pale green space ships looming up through the leaves. As soon as I find them, I pick them, but still...
This has led me to consider what can be done with oversized summer squash.
The usual techniques, eating them plain or stuffing them with something else, seemed kind of tired. There must be other things to do with all this raw material.
The Grange ladies of 1978 came to my rescue once again. Paging through The Vermont Grange Favorites cookbook (brilliantly purchased by my husband for 25 cents at a Memorial Day yard sale), I could see that these women had faced the same vegetative exigencies as I had, and had risen above! There it was on page 90: Summer Squash Pie.
This recipe produces a very light, delicate squash pie, slightly like a pumpkin pie, but minus the heavyness and molasses-ey quality. I've modified it only a little, to focus on handling and use of pattypan squash.
Preheat oven to 375F
Find a deep-dish, 9-10" wide pie plate. (I love my new stoneware one from Magbie Pottery in Brattleboro.)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 oz. (1/4 lb or 1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 T salted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 T cold water
20 oz. pattypan squash (or other summer squash such as crookneck, or zucchini), peeled, seeded, and sliced
1/2 cup sugar, with 1 tsp flour mixed in
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
Make the crust:
- In a food processor bowl with blade attached, combine the flour, sugar, and both kinds of butter. Pulse until butter is pea-sized.
- Add 1/4 cup cold water and pulse briefly, 2 or 3 times. Check the consistency and if still dry, add the other 2 T cold water and pulse twice more.
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured board or Silpat. Lightly press the dough together into a disk. Fold in half and lightly press into a disk again.
- Dust with flour, then roll out to 1 1/2" larger than your pie plate. Transfer to pie plate, smooth in and crimp edges. Place in refrigerator while making the filling.
- Check over the raw squash, ensuring that the fluffy portion in the center which contains the seeds is cut out. Steam the squash until done. (This is to avoid introducing more water into the squash)
- Drain the squash thoroughly, then put the cooked slices on a couple of paper towels and flip once to remove any excess water.
- Put the cooked squash in a food processor bowl with blade attached. Process until very smooth puree (15 to 30 seconds).
- Add the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Process until blended. Then add the eggs and process until combined. Finally, add the cream and milk, processing until blended.
- Ladle filling into the refrigerated crust.
Bake at 375F for about an hour or until puffed, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
(If the edges are browning too much or too quickly, take a long strip of aluminum foil, fold in half, then fit it lightly around the crust. You can also reduce the temp. to 350 and extend the time by 10 minutes if necessary. The Grange ladies were recommending 400F for an hour, but I thought that was a little extreme.)
- Remove from oven. Cool on rack, then cool further in refrigerator.
- Best served somewhat cool, as the pie will become more firm as it cools, and flavor will develop more.
Now, just 57 more pattypans to go. Piece of cake.....!