Friday, October 5, 2012

A Squash By Any Other Name

As I have mentioned before, a few coworkers have had very productive gardens this year, which has come in handy with the prices of food having gone up and the sizes of much produce gone down in size due to bad commercial harvests this year from lack of winter snow and rain.

One day, on the break room table, next to a "free" sign, were some very unusual looking gourd. The person who grew it was little help, and I suspect he didn't even know what it was or what to do with it. Another coworker called it a pan squash and said it was tasty. Not being the least squeamish about unusual vegetable material (animal is a different story; I've seen Andrew Zimmern), I picked up two of these alleged "pan squashes" and took them home.

And home is where they sat for a few months. Ahh, the beauty of squash - it lasts! But one day I noticed that the one squash was looking a bit shrunken, so I decided the time had come to figure out how to cook it. After a somewhat exhaustive search on the internet, I learned that it is more usually called a "pattypan squash" (sometimes sunburst, button, scallopini, among many other names, including UFO as my friends termed it). I also found a recipe that looked not only tasty, but could be made with what I had on hand in my kitchen: scalloped squash

Naturally, I did not follow the recipe exactly. For starters, I still had half of a yellow squash in my fridge, so instead of thinly slicing both pattypans (such a stupid name), I sliced just one and then added to it in the baking dish the sliced up remainder of the yellow squash. I don't think that I would do this mixture again. The skin of the yellow squash tends to get hard and almost chewy when baked, and the pan squash was much softer in texture, which lent itself better to scalloping. (Hey, what do you know, spell-check says that's a word!)

Here are the steps:
  1. I preheated my oven to 350F.
  2. I sprayed my largest glass casserole dish with canola oil.
  3. I sliced up the squash and spread them on the bottom of the pan.
  4. I sprinkled sea salt and ground black pepper over the slices in the dish.
  5. I shook out a good helping of dried chopped onion over the squash slices in the dish, as well.
  6. I poured the remainder of my grated Parmesan cheese evenly over the squash in the pan. There was about 1/4 cup.
  7. Poured 1/2 a cup of milk around the pan, as well, which wet the cheese, then gathered on the bottom of the pan.
  8. I put the pan in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
When the half hour was up and I took the pan out of the oven, I decided it needed more cheese, so I sprinkled a handful of grated Mexican blend cheeses over-top. This is the type of cheese I happened to have on hand. When my mother makes scalloped potatoes, I believe she uses straight up cheddar. Depending on the oven, one might need to stir the pan of squash intermittently while baking to make sure it cooks evenly.
My roommate Kimmy and I agreed that the texture of the rind of the yellow squash was a bit off-putting, though I could still eat it, unlike her. My boyfriend Greg thought nothing of it. I would actually like to make this again with the remaining pan squash and perhaps with freshly grated Parmesan cheese rather than the shelf-stable stuff from the can. I found so many interesting recipes, though, it's hard not to try something new.  I guess time will tell what I end up doing. If it's something new, rest assured it will appear on this blog.

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