Post By: Andrew Buxton
Every budding gardener has tried growing zucchini. Reputation has it that zucchini is the easiest and most forgiving vegetable to grow if you are not too sure of your gardening abilities. I have in the past mostly grown the standard long green zucchini type, and have, through inattention, had some alarming results – great for naughty photos but not so good for eating. This year I decided to branch out into pattypan cultivation as one of my contributions to the cottage garden. With typical enthusiasm I sowed several mounds as instructed, and was pleasantly surprised that just about every seed germinated, survived and flourished. The inevitable result is a pattypan glut that has only just begun.
After giving several away (do zucchini recipients really appreciate the largess of gardeners?) I decided to create a meal based on as much of the rest of today’s harvest as I could manage. Dessert was a chocolate zucchini cake – the first time I have tried this with a pattypan rather than a regular zucchini. The flesh shredded easily and nicely, and I always leave in the seeds. As the wet ingredients were added (I used a standard zucchini cake recipe) the batter turned somewhat fizzy – something I have never encountered before. The cake came out of the oven looking and smelling like every other chocolate zucchini cake I have ever baked – so far so good. (Maybe I will try a spice cake next time.)
My main course was pattypan zucchini parmesan. The base is a home made concoction of garden fresh tomatoes (mostly San Marzano) oven roasted for about an hour at 350 with a little olive oil, garlic, and a dusting of sea salt. That alone is a worthwhile harvest season project, as the smell is out of this world and you can freeze the reduction. Layers of pan seared pattypan slices (about 5mm thick) done in a little olive oil and garlic (my motto is garlic with everything), pressed cottage cheese (ricotta would be good too) mixed with fresh grated parmesan and finely chopped fresh basil leaves (from the garden of course), then another pattypan layer, with a final layer of the tomatoes, covered by whatever grated cheese you fancy.
My other pattypan experiments have included breaded fried pattypan slices, penne with chopped pattypan and other fresh garden vegetables, and grated zucchini cooked down as the base for a cream like pasta sauce (of which, more another time). I am also freezing pattypan slices as part of our project to fill an entire freezer with garden produce. I also want to try my favourite vegetarian moussaka recipe (from The Moosewood Cookbook) but substituting pattypan slices for the eggplant, although our eggplant crop is coming on too and will be demanding attention soon enough.
The final verdict: two permanent additions to the Stanley Cottage menu and a decision to grow pattypan zucchinis in future seasons.