Karen from FamilyStyle Food and I went market hopping on Saturday. (For St. Louisans, we hit two relative newcomers to St. Louis-area farmers markets, the Green Market in the Central West End and the Clayton Farmers Market.) Neither stop overwhelmed even if each yielded treasures and it was great fun, sharing the excitement of Missouri's late-summer bounty with a fellow foodie.
My favorite find was teeny-weeny patty pan squash, way too small for Stuffed Pattypan Squash. Most still had their blossoms! Talk about not understanding the anatomy of a vegetable ... wait, I mean, a FRUIT, which summer squash technically are, botanically speaking. (What are summer squash? That's the group that includes zucchini / courgette, yellow crooknecks and pattypan. Winter squash, in contrast, are acorn squash, Hubbarb squash, butternut squash, etc.) There's the familiar STEM end. But the other end is the BLOSSOM end, making squash, especially miniature versions, look like ethereal sea creatures.
For cooking, I had no idea where to begin, apart from checking for earwigs, CRIKEY. Recipes abound for deep frying squash blossoms and stuffing squash blossoms but I chose squash minimalism: a simple-simple saute. It was delightfully spare, letting the pattypan and their blossoms shine in simplicity.
SIMPLE BABY PATTYPAN SQUASH with SQUASH BLOSSOMS
Time to table: 15 minutes
1 quart baby pattypan squash with blossoms
1 tablespoon butter
[fresh thyme? recommended by my new friend Linda, who also brought home these very same squash blossoms!]
Remove the blossoms from the pattypans. Wash the pattypans. Trim the stems close and cut in half lengthwise (optional). In a non-stick skillet large enough to hold a single layer of the squash, heat the butter til melted on MEDIUM. Add the squash and cook, stirring frequently, til just beginning to brown. Transfer to a warm plate and cover.
Meanwhile, gently wash the blossoms and check the insides for critters. Drop into the hot skillet and cook for just a couple of seconds, just as beginning to wilt. Transfer to plate.Sprinkle with good salt. Serve immediately.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
I trimmed close nearly all the stems but left a few to see how they'd taste: once cooked, the untrimmed stems were very edible so trimming is an optional step.
I halved some of the pattypans, even though small, in order to have equivalent cooking time. As it turns out, I preferred the taste and texture of the halved ones but the looks of the whole ones. Your call!
The pattypans themselves took more time to cook than expected, about 10 minutes, the blossoms less time, just seconds.
Serving size: for a dinner party, I'd put maybe five of these on a plate, especially since they're pretty expensive. A quart box held 32 baby pattypans so would stretch a long way.