The unusual shape of pattypan squash lends visual interest to both your garden and your dinner plate. These cousins of zucchini lack the elongated cucumber-like shape of most summer squash, instead growing in flat and wide circles. Some gardeners refer to them as "flying saucer" squash, because of their unusual configuration. Although their appearance is unconventional, yellow pattypans and their green counterparts can be cooked like any other summer squash.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice a portion of the domed top from each squash, reserving them to use as lids. Scoop out some of the flesh with a small melon baller, leaving a cavity to stuff. Use a spoon with larger pattypans.
Fill the cavity with your favorite meat, fish, grain or cheese-based stuffing, then cover the squash with the reserved lids.
Bake the squash either dry or in a small amount of water or broth, until they're tender and the stuffing is fully cooked. This can take 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Serve them hot as a side dish or light lunch.
Oil the bars of your grill, then light it and preheat it with the lid down to 400 F.
Cut small pattypans in half horizontally to capitalize on their distinctive shape, then toss them or spray them with olive oil.
Season the cut squash with salt and pepper and fresh herbs, then grill them until they're nicely charred on each side and tender throughout.
Low and Slow
Warm a skillet over moderate heat and add a tablespoon or two of flavorful olive oil.
Cut your pattypans into 1/4-inch slices and add minced or shredded onion or shallot. Add them to the oiled pan.
Season the squash lightly to avoid masking their natural flavors. Cook the squash over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until they're soft and well browned and the onions are caramelized.
Pattypans vary widely in size. Large specimens can be several inches in diameter and weigh over a pound each, while small ones are often walnut-sized. As with any other summer squash, the smaller pattypans have the finest texture and most delicate flavor.
Pattypans have a finer and firmer texture than other summer squash, especially when they're small, so they'll also stand up to steaming better than most of their kin. Halve or quarter the squash to take advantage of their distinctive appearance, or slice them thickly if they're large. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes, depending how they're cut, until the squash are tender. For a more flavorful approach, steam them on a bed of fresh herbs or use vegetable or chicken broth for your steaming liquid.