At this point you've probably seen a Patty Pan squash at your local farmers market or scrolling through your feed on Instagram. It seems like this year they've really taken off in popularity. And for good reason—they're delicious! Here's my top 5 reasons everyone should be devouring this delightful little Cucurbita!
1. Fun and varietal
Patty pan are petite, saucer shaped squash with a scalloped edge. They come in assorted colors and sizes, including white, yellow, and green. Varieties include Golden Bush Scallop, which is a golden yellow, Starship, which is a very dark rich green, Sunburst, another yellow variety that is smaller and great for container gardening, Peter Pan, which is a light green and ideal for grilling, and finally Benning's Green Tint which is very similar to Peter Pan, but is heirloom. The images I have here are all from my garden where I planted Benning's Green Tint. It's a prolific producer, but does take up quite a bit of space. With three fully mature plants, I average 1-2 Patty Pan a day.
2. Easy to grow
Like most squash plants, Patty Pan do tend to get quite large. While the Sunburst can do well in a container, it would be best to plant the other varieties in the ground. The more room they have to grow the more produce you're likely to get. Our soil leans on the side of slight alkaline, and has been perfect for the Benning's Green Tint. Most seed companies are going to recommend a PH of about 6 to 6.5, but I do believe you have some slight leeway. Plants grow about 2' tall and somewhere between 4-6' wide. Plants need full sun for best results. Mulch or use a garden fabric for keeping roots cool. Once blooms appear you should have pick-ready squash in about 4 days or so. During the morning hours, our garden is full of happy bumble bees pollinating all of the plants, but they especially love the large blooms that the Patty Pan plant produces. I usually go out to harvest after they've had their fill for the morning. It's quite the orchestra of buzzing and is fun to watch, but can be tricky to work around when in full-force. Leaves and stems are slightly prickly, so use gloves when harvesting if you are sensitive to that sort of thing. Harvest when they're between 3-4" in diameter. I've harvested up to 6" and while they're fine (but seedier), the smaller have much bolder flavor.
3. Delicious and versatile
Patty pan are dense summer squash. They aren't terribly moist and hold together nicely when cooked. The skin is edible and cooks down nicely, so no need for peeling! Patty Pan is great sauteed, baked, or even boiled. You can use it across a variety of dishes including stir-fry or casseroles. It also makes a great vegan burrito filling! Because of their shape and size, they are great for stuffing and baking. Slice thin, fry, and use on a sandwich. They pair very nicely with garden tomatoes as well! You could use in a casserole, a tart, vegetarian chili, or even a quiche. It's truly a fits-all kind of vegetable with a lovely nutty flavor that pairs well with just about anything.
4. Low calories, no fat
One cup of cooked Patty Pan is around 38 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and nearly half of your daily value of Vitamin C. Additionally, it's high in Vitamin B-6, Vitamin A, Potassium, and Magnesium. It has no cholesterol and is low in sodium and saturated fats. The closer you cook from the time of harvest, the higher the nutrient levels will be.
5. Easy to preserve
Because Patty Pan has a high harvest yield, you'll want to preserve some of what you pick for the winter months. After harvesting, Patty Pan last about 3-5 days on the counter or refrigerator. To preserve even longer, use a simple blanch/freeze method. If you've not blanched before, it's one of the easiest ways to keep a lot of what you pull from the garden. For squash it's a 3/5 ratio. Wash and chop your squash, add to a pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and immediately place into a dish of ice water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Scoop with a straining spoon and place into freezer bags. Drain any access water, use a straw to suck out the air, zip and seal tightly. They store in the freezer for around 8 months or so. You could also pickle, or can, but I've not tried either.
As you can see the Patty Pan is an all-star summer vegetable. For plant-based eaters on a vegetarian or vegan diet, Patty Pan offers a bit more bite into a number of dishes. It's unique, yet simple flavor is one that you'll want to return to time and time again. You'll never taste squash the same way after trying a Patty Pan.
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