I'm also trying to create better, healthier and tastier meals. With retirement from my full-time job only seven weeks away, I'm really looking forward to more time in the kitchen. It's one of the things that has kept me going this summer as the weeks seemed to stretch out interminably.
Some of my experiments have been flops. If there is one thing I have learned while struggling to create a true "French kitchen" is that food preparation deserves my full attention. More often than not, when something flops, I have been distracted by a phone call or an e-mail.
In searching for ways to cook and enjoy patty pan squash, that little flying-saucer shaped squash that I only discovered as an adult, I did not find a plethora of recipes. Most seemed bland. This is a pretty but boring squash to begin with - I wanted enough flavor to coax out its natural taste, but I also wanted something interesting.
I ran across a lot of recipes that added thyme, easy enough to do when you have an herb garden, and a few that included basil. I opted for shallots and thyme, with a grated topping of Wisconsin cheese. I found I had a fair amount of dessert cheese on hand, cheese curds made with beer (hey, this is Wisconsin!) and some taco cheese but no Asiago or Parmesan. I had a small heel of cheese with tomato and garlic from a Wisconsin cheesemaker, so I used that.
Here are the ingredients you will need:
- 2 large patty pan squash
- 2 large shallots
- three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- dash ground thyme
- about a half Tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (I recommend Asiago)
Peel and slice the shallots into thin slices. Slice the patty pan whichever way you like - I find it easier to slice it vertically. Slices should be about 1/4 inch thick.
Warm the olive oil in a skillet under medium heat and begin to brown the shallots. Once the shallots begin to turn golden-brown, add the patty pan, and season with ground thyme and salt and pepper, just slightly.
Once the patty pan is slightly browned, remove it from the pan, along with the shallots and place in a small baking pan, adding fresh thyme and grating cheese on top. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, checking often to make sure the cheese topping does not get too dark or even burn.
I think this one's a keeper. It needed a bit more salt and pepper than I started out with, but the shallots and cheese gave it a slight tanginess, tempered by the thyme. I'll be more heavy handed with the thyme next time, too.
This was a meal in itself. The ends of the patty pan were frozen along with yesterday's squash and will find their way into the stockpot come September.