The CSA this week brought a whole bunch of exciting new things, including a pound of squash; we decided to switch it up and take the pattypan (flat-shaped) squash, for some added excitement. After seeing a zucchini tart recipe with ricotta cheese, I was really thinking that the squash-ricotta combination would be perfect, especially on a hot day like today. Aside from using the pattypan like any other squash, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. A quick google search revealed the exciting opportunities for stuffed squash, but I couldn’t find exactly what I had in mind (ricotta, but not all mushy cheese filling). This didn’t stop us. We pulled together our mental picture as best we could, and turned out a pleasing pattypan preparation.
I borrowed from several recipes and went with my gut and pulled together a slightly garlic-y mushroom and ricotta filling with crispy onions on top. I thought that these onions would provide a nice contrasting texture and Bittman’s instructions made it sound easy and irresistible. We sliced up one medium white onion since Bittman suggested one small onion per serving. Since we were out of olive oil, we started the onions cooking in some vegetable oil.
While the onions browned, we boiled the squash for ~10 minutes in an inch of water, until they could be pierced with a fork. The tops were cut off and the insides scooped out (not so carefully) with a spoon. The filling came together from 2 cloves garlic, diced and then lightly browned; a couple cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced and softened in the pan with the garlic; the squash filling, including the extra liquid from inside the squash; and about a cup of ricotta cheese. I cooked down the squash a bit before adding in the ricotta, and next time I’d cook it even a bit dryer to avoid a really liquidy filling. It was all seasoned with some salt and pepper, and kept very simple. The squash were filled and topped with a little Parmesan cheese and baked in the oven at 350 °F for about 15 minutes, until the cheese was just lightly brown. Turns out that the squash were quite forgiving and any holes I had poked in the bottoms were inconsequential after baking. Each squash was topped with some of the perfectly crisp onions, for a great finishing touch.
Of course, ricotta is always delicious, and the mushroom and garlic were a nice complement to the sweet squash…but then the crispy onions came in and stole the show. Really, they were also sweet, but complemented the flavor of the squash amazingly well and pulled all the flavors together. They had that rich, caramelized flavor as well as a slightly crunchy texture to provide the perfect complement to the soft stuffed squash. The leftover filling that didn’t make it back in the squash was also good on bread, with only a hint of squash flavor on its own.
I would be interested in figuring out what else could be used instead of the mushrooms. While they were good, they seemed to be most important for breaking up the soft texture of the filling, and other vegetables, or maybe even pine nuts, could provide interesting alternatives in a similar preparation. I also look forward to making this recipe again with fresh Greenmarket ricotta to realize its full potential. Good thing we’re slated to get lots more squash yet this summer. =)