One of my favorite 1930s cookbooks, The Vegetable Cook Book: From Farm to Table, was written by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown and originally published in 1939. I happen to own a first edition and it’s one of my favorite “go to” books for getting a glimpse to what might have been available within a seasonal kitchen in the the United States just prior to WWII. As this blog progresses, I am certain I will reference the Browns again, however today we are going to focus on one of my favorite summer and fall vegetables here in Texas, pattypan squash.
While it is a bit early in the season currently, pattypan squash is one of those vegetables that you receive in your CSA boxes(Community Supported Agriculture) each week and say to yourself “This is absolutely beautiful, but what on earth am I going to do with it other than sauté or roast it?” Thankfully the Browns have a suggestion for this, mashed pattypan squash, similar to mashed potatoes, however using a squash instead. During the 1930s, pattypans were often referred to as cymlings, which they are still sometimes referred to today.
4 pattypan squash
2 tablespoons of solid fat (Butter, coconut oil, I used bacon grease)
~1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano chopped + garnish
Water (for boiling)
- Peel pattypan squash, chop into approximately 1 inch cubes and remove the seeds.
- Add squash to a saucepan with approximately 2 cups of water (just over half of the quash should be covered). Cover the pan and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce, keep partially covered, and bring to a gentle boil for approximately 20-25 minutes. (You’ll know when the squash is done when you can gently poke it through gently with a fork)
- Remove from heat, drain, remove excess water, and add to a heat resistant mixing bowl. Add fat and begin to mash, I used bacon grease for my fat option because I had some on hand and it gave an excellent flavor to the dish, feel free to use any fat of your preference based on dietary choices. The original vague description in the book, called for butter, I preferred bacon fat. Mix in finely chopped oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Serve while warm. Makes approximately 4 servings.
Additional Options: If looking for a more fiber-filled and colorful dish, I would recommend leaving the skin on and chopping the pieces into ½ inch cubes prior to boiling. This will allow for smaller pieces of the skin to be torn apart while mashing. Oregano was chosen for this particular recipe variation, as I was pairing it with a roasted chicken thigh that night. Feel free to substitute in any fresh herb to pair with your meat dish of choice. I would also recommend adding up to a 1/2 teaspoon of crushed or chopped fresh garlic to this dish. The flavor and texture of the squash is quite light and airy, thus I would not recommend adding more than this, unless you really love garlic. Feel free to scale this dish up if you have a larger sized family (estimate approximately 2 medium sized squash per serving).