Pattypan towers with two-way pesto and blackberry beets

The beauty of Pattypan squashes, particularly the yellow ones, makes me inexplicably happy.  Whenever I chop them, I usually feel a twinge of regret at having to compromise the loveliness of their undulating edges. This recipe was mostly born out of prolonged puzzling about how to maintain the integrity of their natural shapes as much as possible.

Pattypan towers

Although I didn’t get to visit the awesome local Farmers Market during my brief visit home to the Comox Valley this week, I managed to find some Pattypans at a very nice grocery store in Cumberland that carries a lot of regional, organic produce.  On the bike ride to my friend’s kitchen, I dipped quite deeply into the nostalgia pond as I rode along the Dyke. With the Vancouver Island Ranges as a backdrop, this seaside route served as my high school bike commute, and there have been recent rumblings about establishing a gas station on this flood-prone road. The sides of Dyke road are framed by hefty blackberry bushes, and these juicy, August-flavoured fruits seemed like fitting companions for the garlicky pesto and late summer squashes.

Two-way pesto (Either cilantro or basil will work well. Makes enough for about 10 Pattypan towers.  If you have any leftover pesto, it is also tasty as a spread on toast.)

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of parsley (roughly 1 1/4 packed cups)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro OR basil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts and almonds
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Beginning with nuts and garlic, blend everything in a food processor until it forms a smooth paste.  You may have to add small amounts of water, lemon juice or olive oil if the consistency is too thick.

Blackberry beets

  • 1/2 cup finely diced beet root (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • balsamic vinegar

Steam the beets lightly in about 1/2 inch of water until they just begin to soften (i.e. you can easily insert a sharp knife). Drain the liquid, and combine with the blackberries and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Pattypan towers

Slice Pattypans laterally into 4-5 layers with a sharp knife, and keep the layers of each squash stacked together.  Boil an inch of water in a large saucepan.  To ensure that the Pattypans cook evenly but remain separate from one another, spread each stack in individual fans along the bottom of the pan.  Reduce temperature to medium-low and cook until just tender (5-7 minutes).

Spread the pesto and blackberry beets in alternating layers between the Pattypan rounds, and top off each tower with the squash stem cap.
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