Ingredient IQ

How to Cook a Pattypan, A Shisito, A Fairy Tale, A Fingerling

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We’re growing a few fun and different veggies this year—in addition to the old favorites—just to keep things interesting. (Fun and different=Cute names, too!)

DSC_7426 The most beautiful? This Bel Fiore Radicchio.

The most trendy? Shisito peppers. Well, oops, apparently (according to this hysterical mock restaurant menu on Eater.com) this trend is now passé in certain circles, or at least ubiquitous, which is never a good thing. But for a market gardener, a cook, or an eater, Shisito peppers are a total win-win-win. The plants are prolific, the cooking is super easy—just toss with oil, cook in a hot cast-iron pan or in a grill basket until blistered (a few minutes), and season with sea salt. Eat the whole thing—absolutely delicious. Summer-crowd appetizer friendly, too.

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The most colorful?

photo-77photo-76 Our crazy collection of eggplants, including new additions Orient Charm (the lavender beauty) and Hansel and Gretel (the mini purples and slim whites). The cute little Fairy Tales are still new to many shoppers, and I do get some questions about how to cook them. (Hopefully I can write a full blog on eggplants before the summer’s out—most of the slim eggplants are really interchangeable, though Fairy Tale most definitely has a creamier flesh than the others.)

photo-74 And yet despite these less familiar vegetables, it’s something kind of classic (it’s a squash after all!) that seems to confound people the most. Every single day, I put all the green zucchini and the yellow pattypan squash in a big basket together. And every single day the zucchini quickly sell out before the pattypans. The pattypans do have their admirers—our Sunburst variety is so cheery—and there are some shoppers that exclaim, “Oh, my favorite!” and buy 5 or 6 at a time. But I finally realized it’s the shape that stumps many folks.

Because in reality, the texture of a pattypan is no different than a zucchini (as long as neither is overgrown) and you can dice or slice or grate or chop them both.  (The Sunburst pattypan, despite being yellow, does not have the seedy, watery texture of a crookneck or summer squash, but the firmer texture of a zucchini.) I think the flavor of a pattypan is actually a little sweeter than a zucchini.

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But when you look at a pattypan, especially a full-grown one, as opposed to the minis I’ve written about in the past (apparently my obsession with this subject has not waned), you do have to stop and think, now how am I going to cut this thing?

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DSC_7572Hence, my first suggestion: Slice it and roast it. Specifically, slice it North Pole to South Pole (not through the equator), with one of the Poles being the stem end. Slice it thinly, but not too thinly, brush or toss the pieces with oil and salt, and roast in a 425° degree oven until golden brown and tender, 18 to 20 minutes, turning over with tongs once if you like (see finished photo at top of blog). In the last few minutes, you can sprinkle with a mixture of bread crumbs, Parmigianno and parsley if you like (right). Serve as a sidedish with a squeeze of lemon. Or sandwich a bit of goat cheese between warm slices when they come out of the oven and drizzle with a black olive vinaigrette. (There’s a recipe for Grilled Antipasto of Green and Yellow Zucchini with Black Olive-Lemon Vinaigrette in Fresh from the Farm. You can also grill, rather than roast, the slices (just cut them a little thicker).

The slice shape also works just dandy in a vegetable gratin like this one—just replace the zucchini slices with the pattypans.

DSC_7721 For smaller pattypans, cutting them in wedges (as if you were cutting a pie) gives you nice chunky pieces to stir-fry, sauté, or cook in a grill basket on the grill.  As with any summer squash that contains a fair amount of moisture, using relatively high heat will brown up the vegetable before it has a chance to get mushy. Caramelization brings out the sweetness, too. (Find a stir-fry recipe here.)

Now for those of you who’ve been asking about cooking those little Fingerling potatoes, I’ve got a treat for you. Click here!

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