Pattypan squash, also known as scallop squash, is a variety of summer squashes originated from Mexico. Scallop squash generally picked up while they are young, immature, and tender, at a stage they are sweeter, and more appetizing.
Native Americans have long been aware of scallop squash cultivation since centuries. Botanically, they belong to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family of vegetables and closely related to other summer squash varieties such as zucchini, crookneck squash, cocozelle, etc.
Scientific name: C. pepo var. clypeata.
|Pattypan squash. Note for golden yellow blossom. Photo:vasenka.|
Pattypan squash is a rapidly growing half-shrubby plant. It prefers organic, well-drained, sandy soils for best growth. After about 35-45 days of plantation, yellow flowers appears which soon develop into attractive, flattened, disc like fruit pods with scallop shell like undulating edges.
|White scallop squash. Photo courtesy: twisted-string.|
Pattypan squash comes in white, yellow and deep green colors. Usually, young, tender fruits picked at their early stages for best quality and preferred in cooking. If left to grow, pattypan squash soon enlarges in size, its outer peel becomes tougher and seeds turn harder and inedible. Use protective gloves and knife while harvesting to avoid contacting with prickly stem and leaves.
Apart from its fruits, summer squash flowers including pattypan flowers are one of the most sought after items and can make a great side-dish. Male blossoms generally picked up and female flowers left for growing into fruits. Small numbers of female flowers with intact, very tiny fruit (baby scallop squash) can also sold in the markets and indeed, command a special price.
Just like other summer variety squash types, scallop squash too is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 grams of raw fruit carry just 18 calories. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is good source of dietary fiber.
Golden-yellow skin scallopini are good source of flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. These compounds help scavenge harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
pattypan squash hold relatively more amounts of folates, pyridoxine, niacin than zucchini. It provides 30 µg or 7.5% of RDA per 100 gm. Folate vitamin is necessary element for cell division and DNA synthesis. When taken adequately during early pregnancy, it may help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.
It has less sodium (1 mg/100 g) and moderate levels of potassium (187 mg/100 g), an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart-friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.
Fresh scallop squash indeed is a good source of anti-oxidant vitamin-C. Provide about 18 µg or 30% of daily-required levels per 100 g.
Further, pattypan squash carry moderate levels of other B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
|Scallopini squash in a market. Photo courtesy: notionscapital.|
Summer squash including pattypan begin arriving in the markets from May and until the September end. In the markets, buy fresh, small to medium size, bright, immature fruits. Avoid very large, hard shelled overmature fruits as they tend to be unappetizing. Also avoid those with cuts, spots, bruised etc.
At home, store fresh squash as you do for other summer squash like zucchini, inside a plastic bag and place inside the vegetable compartment in the refrigerator set at adequate degrees of relative humidity. They can be stored fresh for up to 2-3 days.
At home, wash fruits in cold water to remove any surface sand. Trim the stem end. Tender pattypan can be used with intact skin. Cut the fruit into small cubes, or wedges as you may desire to use them in cooking. Pattypan squash used in a variety of recipes like stuffed, grilled, roasted, etc.
As in zucchini blossoms, scallopini flowers too an edible delicacy. In general, male blossoms picked up. To prepare, open up blossoms and carefully inspect for insects. Pull off any calyces attached firmly at the base.
Here are some serving tips:
Tender scallopini slices can be added in salads.
Pattypan squash blossoms dipped in batter and fried in oil and enjoyed as delicious fritters.
As in pumpkin, pattypan can be employed in pies, cakes, custards, etc.
Pattypan squash rarely causes any allergic reactions. (Medical disclaimer).
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