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1985's vegetable breakthrough: "sunburst" squash.

You've never seen a squash like the new 'Sunburst' pattypan. Brightly colored like yellow crookneck squash, with creamy white flesh, it has a mild flavor and satiny texture similar to that of regular pattypans or scalloped squash. "Sunburst', bred in Gilroy, California, is an All-American Selection for 1985, indicating that it has impressed judges across the country.

Tiny 'Sunburst' squash may be available in some specialty produce markets this spring, but you can easily grow your own and harvest them at the size you want. Seeds are plentiful this spring on nursery racks and in mail-order catalogs. Some nurseries sell ready-to-plant seedlings. Sowing and growing: just about all you need is sun, water, and some room

In most of the West, April is the month to sow seed. Pick a spot in full sun. Sprinkle seed on soil prepared with organic material and nitrogen fertilizer. Barely cover with soil, then water lightly. Plants should appear in a week. When they are a few inches high, thin to 2-1/2 feet apart; this squash forms 2-1/2-foot bushes, not space-grabbing vines.

In the low and intermediate deserts, wait until September to sow. High-elevation gardeners can start seed indoors now to transplant when weather and soil conditions permit.

If you buy small nursery plants, set them out in May with 2-1/2-foot spacing.

Water when the top 3 inches of soil feels dry. You'll begin harvesting squash the size of those in the top pictures in about seven weeks. Leave some to grow bigger. In a Sunset test planting last summer, the harvest lasted from June to mid-October, when the first frost killed the plants. Cooking with yellow pattypans

Since the plants are prolific, you can afford to be lavish when the fruit is tiny. Prepare them quickly by butter-steaming the tiny size, or follow directions for baby squash stew given on page 242.

Stuff larger squash or use them in the vegetable casserole at right.

Butter-steamed Sunburst Pattypans 2 to 4 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/4 cup water 24 tiny yellow pattypans (1 to 1-1/4 in. across), stem ends trimmed off 1 to 1-1/2 pounds spinach, washed well, patted dry, stems and yellow leaves discarded Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan. Add water and squash. Cover and cook on medium-high heat until squash are tender-crisp when pierced, about 5 minutes; stir often. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon; keep warm.

On high heat, boil away any liquid in pan, uncovered, until only the fat is left and is slightly browned. Add spinach all at once; cover and cook on medium-high heat about 2 minutes. Turn leaves with a spatula and continue to cook, uncovered, until leaves are just wilted, about 2 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lift out spinach with a slotted spoon, draining, and mound on 4 salad or dinner plates. Nestle 6 squash into spinach on each plate. Boil any pan juices down to 1 tablespoon and pour over spinach. Present as a first course or to accompany an entree. Serves 4. Stuffed Sunburst Pattypans Water 2 to 2-1/2 pounds (about 6) yellow pattypan squash, each 3 to 5 inches across, stem ends trimmed off 1/4 pound (1/2 cup) cream cheese 1/2 cup chopped green onion 3 tablespoons whipping cream 5 tablespoons finely shredded or grated parmesan cheese 1 cup shredded swiss cheese Salt and pepper 3 tablespoons coarsely torn soft bread crumbs

In a 4- to 5-quart pan, bring 1 inch water to boiling. Add squash and simmer, covered, until tender-crisp when pierced, 5 to 10 minutes; drain and let cool.

With blossom end up, scoop flesh out with a spoon, leaving a 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick shell. Drain flesh in a strainer; chop. Invert shells and drain on paper towels.

Mix cream cheese, green onion, whipping cream, and 3 tablespoons of the parmesan. Stir in swiss cheese and half of the chopped squash center (save remaining for other uses, such as soup). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill squash shells, using all the seasoned squash mixture. Top with crumbs and remaining parmesan. Set squash side by side in a shallow, greased 2- to 2-1/2-quart baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 350[deg.] oven until heated through and tops are browned, about 40 minutes. Serves 6. Sunburst Pattypan Casserole 5 tablespoons olive or salad oil 4 large onions, thinly sliced 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1/4 teaspoon dry basil leaves Salt 1-1/2 pounds yellow pattypan squash, each 3 to 4 inches across, stem ends trimmed off About 1/4 teaspoon pepper 3/4 to 1 pound small red or green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese Chive blossoms (optional)

In a 12- to 14-inch frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon of the thyme leaves, and basil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are limp and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Add salt to taste. Spread onion in an even layer in a shallow, ungreased 2- to 2-1/2-quart casserole.

Slice pattypans into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Sprinkle lightly with salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining thyme. Arrange squash and bell pepper slices in overlapping rows on onions. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350[deg.] oven until squash is tender-crisp when pierced, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake until cheese browns slightly, about 15 minutes more. Garnish with chive blossoms. Makes 8 servings.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Apr 1, 1985
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