Friends from out of town came to visit last Saturday, to do a little shopping at the farmers' market and have lunch. I needed to make something simple – a little do-ahead and a little à la minute, and a lot from the garden.
I've let the pattypan squash get away from me – I always do – and now have nearly a bushel's worth of cannonball-sized squash. When this happened a few years ago, I devised a tasty gratin, which dispensed with them nicely (when repeated and repeated).
I banged one together while making dinner Friday night. It reheated quickly while I threw together a little caprese salad, with tomatoes and basil from the garden and a very good locally made mozzarella. It was a dazzling late-summer day with a spotless blue sky, so I served lunch at the table down in the garden. We drank a basement-cool Cristom Pinot Noir with it, and sliced into one of my prune tea cakes for dessert.
• • • • • •
Overgrown Squash Gratin
I've only made this with pattypan (aka yellow sunburst)
squash; I fear zucchini or yellow crookneck might be too watery, but
I'd love to hear that someone tried it and proved me wrong.
2 or 3 or 4 overgrown pattypan squash, about 5 lbs. total
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in small dice
3 fat fresh juicy garlic cloves, minced
2 or 3 good hot jalapeño peppers, cut in fine dice – including the membrane and seeds
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out and discard any seeds, then cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes (keep the skin on). Toss the squash with a tablespoon or two of salt in a large bowl and let stand for half an hour. Transfer to a colander and rinse well with cold water, then let drain for about 10 minutes, while you:
Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until soft and translucent (in a large – 12" – sauté pan). Raise the heat and add the squash and jalapeño and sauté until the squash has given up most of its liquid. Season with salt and pepper, then add the cumin and cream and cook just until uniformly bubbly.
Transfer to a 1.5 qt. casserole (this fits perfectly in a small oval Le Creuset gratin dish, #28) and scatter the bread crumbs over the top. Bake until bubbly and lightly browned and visibly drier than when it when into the oven (about 45 minutes).
This is equally good hot from the oven or at room temperature, and I'm certainly not above eating it cold from the fridge.
By the way, when I get to posting about starting seeds next spring, would someone please remind me that I probably shouldn't bother planting pattypan squash?