Last week, my dear farmer told me something astounding. I commented on how much I like her little patty pan squashes – they are so pretty, and have such wonderful flavor. “I’m glad you like them”, she said. “Not many people do.” When asked what she does with the ones that don’t sell, she said that if the timing is right, she gives some away to worthy organizations that feed the needy, but otherwise, they end up on the compost. WHAT??!?!? Did I say I was astounded? So, this week, I went about trying to think up a dish that would do this lovely little vegetable justice, that she could use in her marketing efforts.
I don’t always nail it on the first try, but this time I did. When either my husband or I make something really good, it gets written down in a tattered little book that has been with us almost as long as we’ve been together. The funniest part of this process is always the goodnatured family bantering that eventually results in a name for the new dish. Chick’o'Lanterns, UMO’s (for Unidentified Meaty Objects), Meat Apples, Chicken Bombs, Chicken in a Bucket, Chicken Grenades, and so on. As you can see, this time we went through quite a few candidates – one more ridiculous than the other – before settling on, simply, Squash Pots.
I wanted to use them whole to preserve their cool shape, and their perfect portion size. But since I only had three, I ended up supplementing with a few brightly colored peppers. In all, the makeshift recipe makes about six servings. As always, when I recount recipes – use your own taste buds. All measurements are approximate.
Hollow out 6 patty pan squashes (or bell peppers, or both). Save the meat, cube and set aside. The meat is fairly firm, so it was a little tricky to remove from the shell without punching a hole in the bottom of the squash. I used a paring knife and a spoon. In the end, it doesn’t matter much because the filling is not very runny.
2 peppered boneless, skinless chicken breasts – sautee on fairly high heat, in olive oil and butter, until each side has a crispy, crunchy surface. Set aside.
3 garlic cloves – chopped
2 green onion stalks – sliced
about 1.5 – 2 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
1 celery stalk – chopped
all the removed squash meat – cut into small cubes
Sautee all the vegetables. While cooking, cut up the chicken into smallish cubes. When the veggies are done, add the chicken cubes back into the pan.
1 pinch thyme
about 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp feta cheese
4 tbsp grated cotijo cheese
adjust flavoring with salt and pepper
Let everything bubble together until the cheese has melted. Spoon mixture into the hollowed out squashes and/or peppers. Putting a thin layer of water on the bottom of the pan helps steam the squash shells. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until they look done. Actually – let your eyes and nose be your guide – I didn’t really keep good track of the time. When it smells good, and looks as in the photo, it’s done! Serve with a green salad and a good, chilled white. Enjoy!