July 3, 2012
Quinoa & Kale Stuffed Patty Pan Squash and the Greenmarket
Have I mentioned that I work at a greenmarket?
Every Saturday morning, I hoof it to the Fort Greene market and help a fantastic farmer named Hector sell his edible wares. I do my best to offer tips and advice and recipe ideas to folks who are totally up for adventures in the kitchen. I love it, because after a week of being tethered to the stove and/or my laptop, I get to be outside, talking about food and offering a gentle nudge in the right direction to market-goers who might need, or want, some new inspiration in the kitchen.
In turn, after being surrounded by fresh produce and chatting about it, I always leave feeling motivated and excited to get cooking, so the inspiration is definitely a two way street.
There always seem to be a couple of enigmatic veggies that throw folks for a real loop. So, I try to gear my demos and tastes and tips to help get people past those produce road blocks.
This week, I noticed lots of puzzled glances in the direction of the patty pan squash. I can totally understand why. First of all, they have a weird name, which never helps. And their looks are at once both inviting and off-putting. Dazzling colors draw you in, but the bumpy and awkward shape pushes you right back away. They look like hard work.
Patty pans are mellow and buttery and, although you could grill, sauté or roast them straight up, I stuff them at each and every opportunity. Once you get the hang of stuffing them, you can totally switch up the guts of the stuffing to satisfy your palate and your fridge. Not loving kale? Use spinach, chard, or escarole. Can't get on board with quinoa? Use brown rice or barley OR just go with a pure veggie stuffing.
I suggest serving these little rays of sunshine as a side dish during your July 4th bbqs. You could even steam them - wait for it - directly on the grill. Just double check that your dish is made to withstand the heat of the bbq and go for it.
What you'll need:
4 medium-large patty pan squash
2 spring onions (with small bulbs)
4 stalks of Siberian kale
1/2 cup quinoa
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
Preheat oven to 375ºF
Bring quinoa and one cup salted water to a boil. Once boiled, turn heat down to low, and simmer with lid on until cooked, roughly 20 minutes.
Turn the patty pan squash on its side and slice the tops off - set aside for later.
If the squash do not sit flat, trim a tiny slice from the bottom of each one to stabilize them so they sit upright. Be sure not to cut too far into the bottom, you don't want to create a hole.
Using a grapefruit spoon or a regular teaspoon, dig into the squash and scoop out the seeds and flesh.
Dice the flesh into small cubes, about 1/2 inch in size and set aside.
Rinse and dry the kale. Remove the ribs and discard.
Pile the kale leaves on top of each other and roll them as you would a cigar. Run your knife through down the length of each 'cigar', chiffonading the kale leaves into ribbons. Set them aside.
Dice the onions so that they are roughly the same size as the squash flesh.
In a nonstick frying pan, add one tablespoon olive oil.
Add the diced onions and saute until they start to brown.
Add the diced squash to the onions and saute for another few minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and chili flakes.
Add the kale ribbons to this mixture and allow it to cook for another few minutes, or until the kale has wilted completely.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Once the quinoa is cooked, incorporate it into the kale/squash stuffing by gently folding it all together.
Taste once again and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Season the inside of the patty pan squash by rubbing or brushing them with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Use a teaspoon or fork to stuff the squash with the quinoa stuffing. It's ok if it brims over the top, the more you can fit in there the better!
Rub the tops of the squash with a small bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and place them back on top of the stuffing - creating 'lids'.
Pour about one inch of water into the bottom of a small baking dish.
Place the squash in the dish and cover with foil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the squash are tender.
If you are going to serve these as a bbq side dish, then once they are steamed and cooked through you could use tongs to throw them on the grill so the bottom gets a nice char going.