Patty pan squash just makes me smile. They look like sunny little flying saucers, and they taste like summer in a skillet. Their flavor is delicate but with a bit more personality than zucchini, I think. They come closer to crookneck summer squash in flavor, but, really, they taste like… patty pans. Sometimes they are called scalloped squash, and they range in color from that sunny yellow to deep green to stark white.

Keith Biver

Keith Biver is all smiles at the market on Saturdays. He’s posing with some of his just-picked, super-tender field greens.

 

I’m always sort of surprised when I mention that I’m fixing patty pans and people give me a confused stare. To me patty pans don’t seem so exotic or challengingly strange… like okra! (Ah, for another time.) But I can’t recall seeing them in the grocery stores, either… well, maybe a Whole Foods Market, but not elsewhere. They come from backyard gardens, roadside stands and, of course, farmer’s markets. Mine came from Biver Farms, by the way. Keith Biver always has the prettiest patty pans in June. And I always buy some.

This past week, I invited my friend Deb over for dinner because she was about to leave on a two-week vacation. It’s a great and simple gift to offer a meal with a healthy portion of leftovers to someone who will soon be away from home. If they’ve planned well, their frig is bare, so why not help them get through the last couple of days with a nice meal, a shared bottle of wine and a goodie bag for dinner the night before they head out of town?

I decided on a skillet dinner and a simple salad. Since Deb is a vegetarian like me, I was building a skillet with lots of in-season veggies and some garbanzo beans for protein. My husband Don added a burger for himself. (Ah, I love meat-eating men who are self-sufficient.)

Along with my patty pans, I bought some kohlrabi and garlic scapes from Daydream Farms. These are two other vegetables that garner a confused look from many people. If you want to learn more about garlic scapes and how to use them, see my very first post on this blog about the Great Garlic E-scape. And look for them at the market this week—they’re almost over, but they freeze!

As for kohlrabi, it is a cousin to cabbage and reminds me of a peppery turnip. It needs to be peeled but can then be eaten raw—perhaps grated on top of a salad or into a slaw—or sautéed every which way. It went into my skillet, accompanied by a couple diced sweet potatoes, green onions, a diced fennel bulb and my own garden produce—shell peas and fresh herbs. (Yeah, I am really proud of the peas.)

A skillet dinner comes together in minutes, once your ingredients are prepped. So the time investment is up front and, unfortunately, considerable. Something to keep in mind if you are planning this for dinner on a busy day.

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Garden peas

Gotta say, I was pretty proud of these little beauties.

Getting Into the Garden

Yes. Gardening is a lot of work. I will be the first to admit it. And, I am a super-small-scale gardener compared to many of my more talented and dedicated friends. But I still get an undeniable thrill when what I grow—no matter how humble—ends up on my dinner table and makes my family smile.

This year, I have planted my herbs—I’m getting good at this, so I’m expanding. Many actually come back annually without any prompting from me! I also planted peas—a second attempt after a failed crop last year. I talked with my farmer friends and spent a bit more time and energy giving the peas a better space in which to grow with something to climb on—they like that.

I will also have tomatoes—little super-sweets that will end up in my freezer so that I will not be buying canned tomato sauce next winter. My sauce will be local and organic and homegrown. Gotta love that. I may also have carrots this fall—never sure about the carrots. And, apparently, I have about four large squash plants that just seemed to pop up—benefits of composting. We’ll see what they produce.

How about you? Do you garden? You don’t, but would you like to try? Be brave. (Yeah, you hear that all the time from me, right?) Seriously, give it a try—maybe just some containers on your deck or patio. That’s how it started for me. And, like I always say, get to know your local growers and let them help you. They would LOVE to. Just a reminder, June 26 is Know Your Grower Day in my area. You can get your Passport at the Land of Goshen Community Market Information Tent.

Here’s another resource from Delicious Living Magazine that will help, if you think gardening might be for you– How to Start Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden. This article will take you from getting your soil right, through choosing your vegetables, to tending your plants, to harvesting the bounty of your labors. What can it hurt? Take a peek. And let me know—how does your garden grow?

bowl of peas

We cooked some of the peas in my skillet dinner but later ate them raw in a Caesar salad. Yum both ways!