Before Vivian Howard’s Deep Run Roots, I didn’t know what a pattypan was. During my summer of cooking through her cookbook in her childhood home, I came across a pattypan recipe. It was in the squash chapter and while I should have used some logic, I didn’t.
It was my mom who said, “I know what a pattypan is.” She was reading through my copy of the cookbook replete with my notes such as the one circling the word “pattypans” and a note saying “what are these?” Pattypans are squash. They are flat rather than long. They look a lot like saucer style spaceships.
Somehow, I didn’t need my mom’s knowledge at that point. I had already made the dish and I’m sure I had procured the pattypans by embarrassing myself at Chef and the Farmer of the Kinston Farmer’s Market. This book taught me so much and not only does this recipe call for pattypans, but also for Fontina cheese. Thank you Vivian, for rescuing me from a life devoid of Fontina cheese. I am forever changed.
- 4 medium to large pattypan squash (medium yellow squash or zucchini will do)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 tsp. pepper, divided
- 5 oz. fresh spinach
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ¾ cup grated fontina cheese (swiss can be substituted), divided
- Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Insert a paring knife diagonally into the top of the squash without going through the bottom. Rotate the squash around. You are essentially coring the squash. Scoop the insides leaving at least ¼ inch of flesh and skin. Chop the removed flesh and skin into ¼ inch pieces and set aside.
- Brush 1 tbsp. of olive oil inside the squash and season with a pinch or two or salt and pepper (about ¼ tsp. of each). Place the squash upside down and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and easily pierced with a sharp knife.
- Meanwhile wilt the spinach over medium high heat in a covered pot with a splash of water/ About 5 minutes. Drain and reserve in a medium bowl large enough to hold the remaining ingredients.
- Using the same covered pot from the spinach, heat the remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the reserved squash pieces. Add ½ tsp. of salt and ½ tsp. of pepper. Cover, stirring occassionaly, and cut down until liquid is gone and the squash have reduced by about half. About 10-15 minutes.
- Grab the bowl with the drained spinach and add the ricotta cheese, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, ½ cup of grated fontina cheese, the cooked squash, and ¼ tsp. of both salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Fill the roasted pattypans with the spinach/ ricotta mixture. Divide the remaining ¼ cup of fontina cheese amongst the squash, topping each with a few shreds. Sprinkle the tops with ¼ tsp. of pepper and bake for 10 minutes at 400 or until the cheese on top has melted.
- Serve warm.