Gardening is my escape and my passion. Learn how to grow some vegetables right in your own backyard.
A Member of the Squash Family
A friend introduced me to patty pan squash several years ago. It is a member of the summer squash family and is used in dishes similar to those of its sisters zucchini and yellow squash. In fact, squash is one of the Three Sisters of crops the Native Americans used to grow. The premise was use corn as a type of stalk that beans could grab on to and climb up, and the leaves of these two provide shade for the squash grown near the bottom of the corn base.
Patty pan squash has the crisp, fresh taste of zucchini with the sweetness of yellow squash and upon my first taste of it, I decided to add it to our garden manifest.
These squash can be found at farmer's markets, CSA farms, specialty grocery stores, and in many backyard gardens. This uniquely shaped fruit is delicious and a recipe is included at the bottom of this article.
A Little History of Squash
Fruit or Vegetable?
The name squash came from the Massachuset Indian "askutasquash" meaning "eaten raw." While we think of eating most any squash cooked, the Massachuset Indians must have eaten this family of vegetables raw. Patty pan is in the summer squash family which means it is among those squash that are eaten and cooked. The winter squash family is made of up gourds, pumpkins, and other rough-skinned squash that sometimes is used for decoration instead of food. The most popular winter squash in America is the pumpkin.
Patty Pan squash is grown mostly in the Western Hemisphere as it needs long hot days to grow. But it's growing cycle is not long. It should take around 45 days from seed in the ground to veggie on the vine. They are planted in a mound with 3-5 seeds in each mound. You can choose to thin them when they emerge or you can keep no more than 3 in each mound as the plants get medium to large in size spreading upright and outward.
Most varieties of squash need to be picked soon after they ripen as the skin hardens quickly or the vegetable grows to an unwieldy size with large seeds inside the plant. This type of summer squash needs only a little bit of cooking and are very good for pickling. Many gourmet chefs use the squash blossom as food or for decoration. It is beautiful!
Seeds To Get Your Started
If you have a backyard garden, chances are you will not use an entire packet of seeds. Just seal the package and store your seeds in a dark place and air-tight so you can use again in a second growing season or the next year. When stored properly, seeds last for several years with excellent production.
Uniquely Shaped Vegetable - Looks like a scalloped-edged UFO
A flying saucer? A pat of dough? A new shaped disc for disc golf? None of these! It's patty pan squash, a whimsical name for a delicious vegetable. It isn't tough-skinned like butternut squash, or thin-skinned like zucchini, somewhere in-between. Although when cooked, the skin can (and should!) be eaten with the flesh.
Stages of Growth
There Is One Main Enemy
The Squash Bug!
Nothing grows without some challenge and this plants main enemy is the squash bug. They will attack your plant with a vengeance and I have yet to find a way to combat them. Every year my garden is lush with green leaves and many squash flowing off the stems when one day I walk out to harvest and bam! The plant is wilted, and looking sea sick due to being infested with squash bugs. If you are diligent, you can find the eggs underneath leaves prior to the infestation. They are found in clusters. Just pick off that chunk of leaf and stamp on it, or burn it, or dispose of it.
Other ways I have tried to combat the bugs are to put foil around the young main stem as squash bugs enter the stem and poison the plant in this way. Try a mulch of crushed leaves for extra protection and staving off what may be inevitable.
One of the best shields against any bug infestation is to change your growing area year after year, or rotate your crops. This is the one way organic gardeners combat insects. If you move the space you grow one crop in, or rotate them, some bugs will have a harder time finding the plants the following year as bugs live in the soil, go dormant, then reappear seasonally. Think of it as hide and seek and hopefully you can make the seeking difficult.
Recipe for Patty Pan Squash
This dish can be on your plate minutes after picking it from your garden - the best way to eat any food!
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 10-12 minutes
- 1 patty pan squash
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Wash and dry squash. Using a large knife, cut in half lengthwise. Trim ends so outside of squash will lay flat in pan. Place butter and olive oil in saute pan. Melt and mix together. Add squash halves and saute for 4-5 minutes on first side. Flip over and saute 4-5 minutes on other side. When soft to touch and slightly brown, add a think layer of parmesan cheese on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and devour.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Joanie Ruppel
Have You Ever Seen Patty Pan Squash Before Now?
Joanie Ruppel (author) from Keller, Texas on August 30, 2013:
@SusanDeppner: Susan, this small meal felt so wholesome, nutritious and delicious! Good luck on your crop next year.
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on August 29, 2013:
I haven't grown squash, but probably next year I will. We were just recently talking about patty pan squash. Love your recipe - love parmesan cheese on squash of any kind!