Do you know what this is?

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea. At the market I saw them, looking all white and flowery (because to me they look a little like a flower) with the rest of the squash whispering “don’t you want to open me up and look inside?”

Ok, I know that sounds sort of dirty, but when ever I see a new vegetable and fruit that’s how I feel. France is excellent on bringing out the old-timey vegetables in winter and this winter I’m determined to expand my horizons and cook with some of them. My first year in France I discovered leeks. Don’t laugh.

So I bought this squash and contemplated it for a while. I wasn’t even sure how to open it. I did what anyone who has no idea what their doing would do.

Cut it in half.

It’s white inside. Kind of like chou ravé (whatever that is in English), or yellow squash. Scooped it out and stared at it some more. The only thing I could think of to do was stuff it. Into the oven it went, out the door I went to consult my butcher on what to put inside.

If you’ve ever read Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, where he encounters the butcher in a town near Avignon who tells him how to cook his stew – there are still butchers like this in France. Mine happens to be one of them. When I cooked my turkey for thanksgiving fifteen minutes were spent discussing basting, stuffing, baking techniques to the end of him giving me a needle, thread and the intestine of a lamb to put over the turkey in order to keep the stuffing inside. He was horrified when I said I was going to use aluminum foil.

Anyway, my butcher is proud of his sausage. I know – a little dirty. And he recommended his homemade spicy pork sausage with a mixture of spices and seasoning for stuffing with garlic onion and celery.

I walked home, hoping my squash wasn’t done yet. It wasn’t.

Everything was chopped and cooked in a pan. I added a bit of shredded Emmental just to hold it all together.

I stuffed it all into the small space inside my squash and baked it for a final 10 minutes in the oven at about 200°C.

When reading about patty pan squash online, I read that the skin of the squash was rather thin and you had to be careful the thing didn’t fall apart when you served it. My squash wasn’t like this at all, and in fact the next time I make this particular squash I’m going to scoop out the meat and use the shell as a bowl for serving. It was more than hard enough.

But how did it taste? Well, it’s not a sweet squash like butternut or pumpkin. It has much more of a crisp, vegetable bite to it, cross between zucchini or celery. Combined with the garlic, sausage and cheese it worked quite well. The sausage was savory and in some ways the cooked squash was fresh and even a bit summery. Can’t beat that.

It’s a little tough to eat squash sideways. Or to stuff squash sideways. Or serve and cook sideways. And it looks a little like menacing mouth smiling at you with huge white teeth and a long meaty tongue. Hopefully patty pan squash won’t be in your nightmares tonight.

FYI: My last post got eaten by WordPress in some glitch and I had to delete it. Hopefully it will be back up tomorrow or Monday!