Round about this time of year Clif from Clif’s Gardens sells bags of bright yellow scallopini squashes at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market. I just love the colour. And the cute, crazy, flying saucer shapes. (The Waikato Foodbasket loves weird vegetables!)
Apart from their startling appearance, scallopini are just a kind of summer squash, along with zucchini and courgettes. Another name for scallopini is pattypan squash.
The botanical name for the various summer squashes is Cucurbita pepoe. They all have slight differences in flavour and texture, and dramatic differences in appearance. What they have in common is that they’re eaten when they’re babies – they’re not so tasty if left to mature. (That’s a marrow, folks.)
Three great scallopini recipes
Scallopini can be used in pretty much any courgette/ zucchini recipe. They have a bit more crunch and flavour than the average courgette, in my opinion.
My absolute favourite way to use scallopini is in this pickle. It’s adapted from a recipe for Bread and Butter Pickle in The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S Rombauer, my trusty American food bible. I’ve cut down the amount of sugar in Mrs Rombauer’s original. And I use my own home-made apple cider vinegar – here’s a link for how to make it. I’m about to start making another batch.
Above: the absolute best thing to do with a bag of scallopini. Try it and see.
This pickle is wonderful with toasted cheese. You could use any kind of zucchini, but the scallopini is pretty and keeps its texture.
1kg scallopini, cut into thin slices
2 onions, peeled and cut into thin slices
Cover with cold water and add ¼ cup pickling salt. (Plain sea salt is good.)
Let stand for 2 hours, then drain.
Bring to the boil for 2 minutes:
3 cups cider vinegar
1/3 sugar – I use Trade Aid’s Fairtrade sugar
1 tsp celery seed
2 tsp mustard seed (either black or yellow, or a combination)
1 tsp turmeric – Trade Aid now have Fair Trade turmeric.
Add scallopini and onions. Remove from heat. Let stand for 2 hours.
Heat to boiling. Boil 3 to 5 minutes – no longer or everything will turn to mush.
Pack in clean hot jars and seal.
Optional: add 1 or 2 slices of hot chilli or jalapeno to each jar.
Asian-style pickled salad
David from Suncakes Gardens usually has daikon and spring onions on his farmers’ market stall, and he also has snow peas and sugar snap peas at this time of year. And for capsicum, I couldn’t go past Southern Belle’s superb sweet points, also available at the local farmers’ markets.
If you have time, make this salad a few hours ahead and leave it to marinate.
1 cup of scallopini, sliced thinly and cut into small strips.
¾ cup of daikon, peeled and sliced into julienne strips (matchstick sized).
One spring onion, both white and green finely sliced
One red capsicum, seeded and sliced into fine strips
A handful of snow peas, topped and tailed
Toss with a dressing made from 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar and salt. (The proportions will depend on your taste buds.)
Sprinkle with a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds.
Simple and divinely delicious. This recipe is so basic that it doesn’t appear in cookbooks, except in passing. Also good with zucchini.
Slice the scallopini into small pieces about half a centimetre thick. Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (Elizabeth David suggests you could also use butter, or a combination of oil and butter) to medium heat in a cast-iron frying pan. Add a clove of finely chopped garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add the scallopini and cook gently for 5 minutes (or a bit longer) on each side, until tender. (If they start to brown that’s okay.) Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley to serve.