Friday, July 22, 2011

Squash!

Yes, my friends, you read that title correctly. This ENTIRE post is about squash. (Don't worry — there is a baked good recipe in here) For three solid days I spiraled into a sort of squash frenzy, consuming no fewer than 6 (and a half) squash dishes!

More specifically, I went squash blossom and patty pan squash crazy. What are these foreign squashes you ask?

Squash blossoms are the flowers that sprout at the ends of squash.



Amongst my abundant online research, I discovered a food blogger who says she loves fried squash blossoms. She went on and on about them that I immediately wanted to try it. She also created a recipe for a squash blossom pesto sauce. I thought about these things as I walked past a farmer's mark stand selling squash blossoms for merely $3 a basket... "yes, hi, I'll take two!"

I admit, I can be a bit impulsive when it comes to food — I really didn't think this purchase through. The fried squash blossoms weren't going to be a problem, but the pesto threw a lot of complications at me. The recipe called for saffron threads, which I couldn't find anywhere and pine nuts, which I couldn't find for less than $10 and so refused to buy. Two key ingredients down already, I figured I could just improvise the rest (a little oregano here, a pinch of something else there...)

The other speed bump I hit with the pesto was the fact that I have nothing remotely similar to a food processor in my kitchen. I was able to borrow a blender from a friend, but it didn't quite do the trick.


Back to the squash blossom success story for now. I put off making the pesto for a night because I knew I was in over my head, and instead, I invited a couple of girlfriends over for a fancy appetizer party (AKA we all stood around my tiny kitchen and they watched me batter and fry up squash blossoms before we sat down in the living room and ate them in front of the TV).

The fried squash blossoms were simple and delicious! All I had to do was lightly batter them in a flour/milk concoction (3 tablespoons of flour + a splash of milk) and then carefully place them in hot olive oil to fry for a few minutes on each side. Once they looked crispy and browned, I set each one on a paper towel (to de-grease) and sprinkled them with salt before serving. The whole batch was gone in moments!


Another simple and easy hit was the (toaster) oven baked patty pan squash with parmesan cheese. What is this patty pan squash, exactly? It's a summer squash that looks like a UFO with scalloped edges. Apparently they are best when small, but like an amateur, I grabbed the biggest ones I saw. These bigger patty pan squashes had a very zucchini-like flavor, rather than the nutty flavor that apparently goes along with the small ones — I'm trying these next.

To make my patty pan squash, I sliced it up, spread it out on one of those tin foil plates I'm so fond of, dabbed on some butter, grated on some cheese, and popped it in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes, which was when the cheese started to form a nice brown-ish crust. I topped it with some fresh oregano, salt, and pepper before I ate it.


After a good night's rest, I was ready for my pesto challenge.The original recipe called for 12 squash blossoms, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup of olive oil, and ingredients I didn't have. Determined to ignore this obvious flaw in my plan, I blended up said ingredients (quite literally, in a blender) and added a bit of salt, oregano, and pepper. The blender provided me with a very coarsely chopped mess of squash that I then diluted down with the olive oil. Now that I think of it, this could make a nice spread... on a piece of toast... or garlic bread.

But I digress.

The sauce was alright. I definitely need to try it again in mom's kitchen where I know I can find some saffron and pine nuts. And a food processor.

By the way, I'm counting this pesto sauce as my "half" dish out of the 6.5 squash dish marathon, not because it didn't turn out, but because it was mostly used as a garnish on two other dishes.

The first of these was just your basic pasta dish, with whole wheat penne pasta and some vegetables. I sauteed it with the pesto for a lovely dinner.

The other was a repeat of my sliced and baked patty pan squash with parmesan. I did the same thing as before, but after I toasted it for 5 minutes, I sprinkled on a hearty amount of the pesto sauce and popped it back in the toaster oven for 5 more minutes.


On day three, I summoned my mystical creative baking powers to create a squash baked good. Since my patty pan squashes were so similar to zucchini in taste and texture, I figured it would work to treat them as such. Therefore, I transformed your basic zucchini muffins into these oatmeal patty pan squash muffins:


Patty Pan Squash Muffins. (Recipe adapted from ViggiesVeggies)
Makes 12 muffins (if you want to use zucchini instead, go for it!)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup shredded patty pan squash
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees 
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar 
  • Mix in oil, egg, milk, and vanilla 
  • Add shredded squash and oatmeal 
So, as day three came to an end, I had consumed fried squash, baked squash, squash sauce, and squash muffins.

As if that wasn't enough, I also had about 1/2 a cup of shredded patty pan squash left over from making the muffins. I grated up some parmesan cheese and mixed it with the squash shavings, some bread crumbs, and some fresh oregano and then fried it by the spoon full to make patty pan squash fritters (a variation of some awesome zucchini fritters I made while studying abroad in Florence).


So, to sum up:
  1. Fried Squash Blossoms
  2. Baked Patty Pan Squash with Parmesan Cheese
  3. Baked Patty Pan Squash with Squash Blossom Pesto and Parmesan Cheese
  4. Penne with Squash Blossom Pesto
  5. Oatmeal Patty Pan Squash Muffins
  6. Fried Patty Pan Squash Fritters
and 6.5 Squash Blossom Pesto

Three days later still, and I'm still polishing off the muffins. They say you are what you eat...

1 comment:

  1. Talk about mouth watering... Your descriptive powers are amazing!

    ReplyDelete