Monday, June 7, 2010

Polenta and spring vegetable ratatouille with pattypan squash

Am I the only one who buys certain vegetables because they look good? I mean, c'mon, look at these pattypan squashes (picture below) don't they look like they must have been planted by seeds from some alien ships years back! Pattypan squash is a type of summer squash. I started seeing them very recently (within the last week or two) at our farmer's markets. They caught my attention instantly. First week I figured I had no idea what to do with them so I resisted the impulse of buying them. Next week I still hadn't done my homework but now I was more worried - what if the squashes are like green garlic available just for a week or two and then gone! So I quickly add some to my basket thinking I'll figure out what to do with them later.

Today nearly a week later I am pondering the usual what to make for lunch question. End of the week and there isn't much of a choice when I suddenly remember these pattypan squashes sitting and waiting nicely in the far back edge of the crisper. Suddenly feeling guilty about my impulse buying I decided to make a meal entirely out of the pantry and fridge to somehow make things right in the broader global equation. Partly I have been motivated to clean the fridge ever since Nupur announced the blog-bites 4 - to cook with something lurking in the kitchen; and this seemed like a perfect recipe. I googled for some ratatouille recipes and finally adapted this one from Simply Recipes.

This is either a clean your pantry meal or a perfect farmer's market meal. You can pick whatever assortment of vegetables and herbs that suit your fancy at the market and make a very tasty ratatouille out of them! When the ingredients are fresh and the preparation is simple, the meal is sure to taste great! 

Source: Inspired from this Mark Bittman recipe
1C medium grind cornmeal
4C water
olive oil
salt & pepper

Bring water to boil. Then gradually add cornmeal whisking continuously. Add enough salt. Return the mixture to boil. Reduce heat to barely simmer and simmer stirring constantly for about ~30 mins or until the cornmeal tastes cooked through. Remove from heat. Add hearty slugs of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Spring vegetable ratatouille with pattypan squash
Source: heavily adapted from this
3 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 large onion - chopped
1 red bell pepper - chopped
4 small pattypan squash - chopped into bite size pieces
3 sticks of celery - chopped
3 ripe tomatoes - chopped
2Tbsp capers (or more or less depending on taste)
1C water or vegetable broth
Handful of fresh basil - chopped into ribbons
1Tbsp freshly chopped thyme
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Chop all the vegetables including patty-pan squash into similar size pieces. Heat olive oil in a wide pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add chopped onions and saute until the onions are tender (couple of mins). Add bell pepper, squash, celery, tomatoes and 1C water. Cover and let cook over medium heat for 10-15 mins.
(All the vegetables added - before cooking)
Add capers, fresh herbs, salt & pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings per taste. Serve over warm polenta.

This ratatouille goes straight to BB4 hosted at One Hot Stove.
This month's book club pick was a two-year anniversary special for our this book makes me cook book-club. As a second anniversary treat we got to read any of the wonderful Fannie Flagg books. I was excited because I have heard a lot about Fannie Flagg books but had never read one. Whenever I have to pick one book of an unknown author I always pick the one which has most/best reviews. Its a guarantee of some sort that you get to read the best work of the author. Keeping with that tradition I picked up Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-top Cafe

The story is set in a small railroad town in the southern US spanned across multiple decades. One of the main things you notice as soon as you start reading this book is the ability of the author to effortlessly travel between multiple threads spanned across many decades without loosing the reader. There is one thread of Idgie and Ruth, two women who own the local Whistle-top cafe serving delicious southern homemade food; and then there is another thread many decades forward of Ninny and Evelyn - a woman in a retirement center and another deep down in her mid-life crisis. The story-line is good and it keeps you engaged. The middle parts of the book do drag on for a while but it picks up well towards the end where all the threads start to come together and pieces start to fall into places. The book is good in giving you that small-town folksy feeling where neighbors still care about each and everyone minds into everyone else's business in a very friendly caring sort of way interlaced with the accounts of the awesome tasty southern food! The book even has some of the recipes from the cook character which I wanted to make but shied away after seeing the butter content! Overall a good read; I can't say it lived upto my expectations from the very first Fannie Flagg book but it sure was a refreshing read.


  1. I have just watched the movie - ratatouille.. never had or tried this dish, so thanks to you now I know how this looks like :)

    Seems a different way of preparing mix veg :D

  2. Totally agree with you, Fannie Flaggg's ability to move across time zones seemed very effortless indeed. I have read a few of her books, but Fried Green tomatoes is her best!

    And yes, a couple of years ago, I bought pattypan squash just because they looked so cute, almost like fancy cup cakes! Love that first picture, makes me want to grab a spoon and dig in.

  3. I love ratatoutille, i do this dish once spring starts here, yet to put my hands on polenta, beautiful dishes together..

  4. oh my those colours look refreshing...the squash is new to me...never really seen it...but shall keep a look out for those at the farmers market:)

  5. First time seeing this beautiful pattypan squash, great combo and they are really healthy and delicious. Love your picture showing chopped vegetables in the pan, so colorful!

  6. wow..what a colorful healthy dish dear.

  7. I love Fannie Flagg and Ratatouille :)

    Hope you enjoyed the book - have never seen patty pan squash, but I would pick them up too just for their cuteness!! :)

  8. Love the colors of the dish. I agree those pattypan squashes are just too hard to ignore.

  9. Oh these squash really looks so bright and colorful. Final preparation looks awesome

    Hamaree Rasoi

  10. Co0o0llll...this dish looks amazing..never tried pattypan squash before..this surely inspires to make one.

  11. Dishe looks so colorful and delicious..New to me as I have not yet trird on Squash.

  12. Colorful and Delicious PJ..

    Kairali sisters

  13. Hey,
    I make use of these patty-pan squash often..I used the green ones to make green gram and squash dish like 10 days ago. The only thing that I don't like about that is that its sticky like chow-chow.
    Lovely ratatouille dish btw.

  14. wooow!!! dish looks delicious n colourful dear,, very healthy recipe i like pattypan squash dear taste very good...

  15. Thats a delicious spring recipe!!! Pattypan Squash looks really cute :-)

  16. Very colourful to me.

  17. Wish I could get those pattypans in Albany sometime!...they are adorable! Lovely recipe, perfect for this summer!

    I have read the book and it is a lovely read!

  18. Kanchan, ratatouille is great.. more because its a perfect end of the week kitchen sink dish :)

    Aqua, i enjoyed reading it. yes, they are so adorable!

    Priya, polenta is just cornmeal and water.. you will like it!

    An Open Book, thanks! They are in season now through summer.

    Treat and Trick, thanks! I am so glad you liked it.

    Jay, thanks!

    Miri, i liked reading the book.. though it somehow felt draggy to me at times.

    Indo, i know, thats nature's way of making them thrive, i guess

  19. Deepa, thanks!

    A2Z vegetarian cuisine, they are in season now, good time to try!

    Panchpakwan, thanks! I am sure you will love it.

    Kairali sisters, thanks!

    Lassie, that a cool idea.. i have yet to try the green ones. next time! the yellow ones weren't sticky at-all though.. i wonder if yellow is the ripened form of green?

    Sathya, thanks!

    Rachana, thanks!

    Deepti, thanks!

    Preeti, you might.. they are summer squashes.. from now till summer they are in season.

  20. love the recipes, its so simple and yet looks so delicious...nice way to have all the colourful vegetables

  21. Awesome looking dish. Colorful dish and delicious yummy recipe.

  22. That's funny I bought some pattypan squash a couple of weeks ago and I had to look up how to use it. I just ended up roasting it, I had to use it up before it went bad.

    The ratatouille looks very good. Nice choice, I love those pantry meals!

  23. That looks so yummy never tried polenta yet!!, never saw a squash like that looks so cute!!, still I have not read the book!!

  24. Sushma, thanks! yes, ratatouilles are perfect to sneak vegetables in :)

    Shriya, thanks! I am so glad you liked it.

    Lyndsey, roasting pattypan squash sounds great.. i should try it next time,

    Jayasri, i hope you like the book.

  25. last year I saw these cuties at someone's blog and I was introduced to them as sunburst squash. they are so did you cut them to cook? lovely recipe and yes am also in your group....cant resist buying things that catches my fancy.

  26. I so agree with u- the pattypan squashes r so cute..i never miss to buy them.the dish looks oh so colourful

  27. Wow i love this squash so much.. And polenta with veggies..mmm yummy I love it..

  28. LOL :D Totally agree with you..i have been in your situation a lot of times :) The dish looks very colorful and inviting :)

  29. Great dish PJ! What a beautiful colors of vegetables. I've seen that squash but haven't dared to try yet. :D Thanks for a lovely creation. Pics are soooo good! :)

  30. I love pattypan squash! Sometimes they have these super tiny ones (like miniscule) and so I buy those and just eat them straight up!

    This ratatouille looks and sounds excellent. And the polenta...makes my belly happy.

  31. Thanks for the delicious entry- like you, I often fall for pretty vegetables without necessarily having a recipe in mind for them.

    Fried Green Tomatoes was a light and good read for me a couple of years ago. I love your book reviews!

  32. Oh yes I so buy vegies because they look beautiful. I love vegetables- I end up with way too much after a visit to the market. I really have to control myself.

    I would so go crazy over these squash.

    Fried Green Tomatoes- really is a great story.

  33. Pj,
    Ur rite.Those squashes look really tempting .Nice recipe too.Looks so colourful n healthy.

  34. Those yellow squash, someone gave me years back, I didn't know what to do..went into the bins!! wish I had a internet that time..but now I know what to do with looks so colourful..

  35. Sayantani, I cut them vertically in halves; and then cut each half into multiple tiny pieces. They were very tender, i almost ate half just like that while cutting.

    MunchCrunchandSuch, they are so buy-able, right!

    Pavithra, thanks!

    Parita, thanks!

    Sonia, do try this squash during your summer next.. I am sure your muthias would be wonderful with this squash too :)

    Joanne, ooohh.. never seen such tiny pattypans.. but i so want to buy them now! i hope markets here will carry them soon.

  36. Nupur, thanks for hosting this awesome event! got me into the mood of cleaning the fridge atleast :)

    Lori, thanks! Yes, that sounds about right with me too :) i always over-estimate how much produce we need for the week and then there is impulse buying ofcourse!

    Shahana, thanks! aren't they so tempting

    Jagruti, i am sure you will find a lot of uses for these squashes next time you find them :)

  37. Ratatouille is always been with brinjal as main ingre for me, the squash is the cutest veggie :) The plate is bursting with flavor and color!

  38. this is completely my type of food PJ !!
    i love using corn grits as polenta is a bit rare sight here , with veggies it is great .....those pattypan squash are absolute cuties , have been seeing them on the internet for long but in India i am yet to come across them....but we have our own summer squash n i love all of them.

  39. this is completely my type of food PJ !!
    i love using corn grits as polenta is a bit rare sight here , with veggies it is great .....those pattypan squash are absolute cuties , have been seeing them on the internet for long but in India i am yet to come across them....but we have our own summer squash n i love all of them.

  40. this is completely my type of food PJ !!
    i love using corn grits as polenta is a bit rare sight here , with veggies it is great .....those pattypan squash are absolute cuties , have been seeing them on the internet for long but in India i am yet to come across them....but we have our own summer squash n i love all of them.


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