August 18, 2009

unlikely ingredient: pattypan squash pie

It's squash season. My mom has been making squash in every way she knows how: steamed, sauteed, casseroled, sliced thin, fried.... You name it, she's tried it.

And she gave me a tip one day after sending me home with a few pounds of pattypan squash--the white summer squash that look like flying saucers (and some of them are tall, resembling white versions of the ghosts from PacMan, no joke). "I think your grandmother used to make pie with these. Call and ask for her recipe."

So I did. My grandmother said she'd run out of apples one day, and turned to the white squash instead. They have a very mild flavor and can really adapt to any dish, even sugary pie laced with cinnamon and streusel.

The first time I made this dish, I treated it like an
apple betty: a crustless version of baked apples with a buttery streusel on top. It was good, but those of us tasting it decided it'd be better with a crust.

Turning to my
all-butter crust success, I decided to make a bottom crust for the pie. The pressure was on, though: this particular pie was headed to a dinner party.

Funky-Bottom Pattypan Pie Betty
For the crust:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1 tbls sugar
dash salt
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
4-5 pattypan squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/4 cup orange juice

For the streusel topping:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350. Make the pie crust following my directions here, or use your favorite pie crust recipe. Blind bake the crust for about 7 minutes. 

Meanwhile, peel the pattypan squash (we found it easiest to trim off the nubs first, then peel with a vegetable peeler), cut it in half, and remove the seeds. Then slice it into 1/4-inch-thick pieces, and in a separate bowl, toss with the orange juice. 

Once the crust is blind-baked, add the squash. 

In a separate bowl, using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut together the streusel ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (with little pea-sized, sugar-coated bits of butter...yum). Sprinkle the streusel on top of the pie and bake, uncovered, at 350 for approximately 40 minutes, or until streusel is browned and squash is very tender. 

Note: I had a little trouble achieving a nice brown on the streusel, so I bumped it up to broil in the oven for about 5 minutes, which finished the job quite nicely. 
The pie was a hit at the dinner party; I asked folks to guess what could possibly be in it and nobody believed that it was squash! The dash of nutmeg had us all pining for fall, which is seemingly years away as we mark our 60-some-odd day of 100-plus degree temperatures here in Austin... 


Jess said...

yeah! Another butter crust! I'm so glad you like it. I'll have to try the squash pie soon, though we're still swimming in zuchinni and tomatoes here in Wisconsin. I'd take your Texas heat any day over 60 degree weather in August!
Your pie makes me pine for fall! My favorite season.

John. R said...

I'd never heard of or seen patty pan squash until this post. Last night, I made that squash casserole you wrote about in August and as luck would have it, the person I was cooking for had some of the patty pan squash. I figured what the hell and threw them in alongside the zucchini and yellow squash and it worked out very well.

I'm going to have to try out this pie. It sounds delicious!