Hey ESers, did you miss me? I missed you! I’m afraid I’ve been gallivanting about for about a month and I have severely neglected ES in the meantime (and cooking in general). I’ve been back for a week, and I must admit that my brain is a bit rusty and my cooking thus far has been less than inspired. Does that ever happen to you all after a long time away from your kitchen?
I mean I was missing my kitchen the entire time I was gone, but my cooking muses seem to have expired during my brief journey, leaving me with only enough energy to cook a few stir-fries and throw together some salads. Ugh…. Cookers’ block.
However, lucky readers, before I left for travels, I was struck by no such affliction. In fact, just before I left I hosted a dinner party for which I pulled out all the stops. With my favorite summer ingredient at the ready I made my most delicious and complex pattypan dish yet: Chickpea and Pesto Stuffed Pattypans:
There they were, fresh from the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market: seven large gleaming yellow pattypans.
I’d made a delicious, vat of vegan lactose-free pesto earlier. For the pesto I threw the following into a food processor and gave it a few pulses:
a half pound of arugula, two cups of cilantro, a handful of basil from my garden, a half cup of lemon juice, two cap fulls of olive oil, eight cloves of raw garlic, about three tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt for extra creaminess (you can easily sub plain soy yogurt for this ingredient if you’re a damned hippy – I mean a vegan), an 8-ounce bag of almonds, a liberal amount of salt, and one half of a seeded poblano pepper (these are very mild peppers when you come right down to it, and perfect for giving a smidge of heat to a pesto)
It was a truly delicious, salty, bitey pesto. I’d used it on a pasta earlier in the week and had Gansie try it out. She’d shrieked, “Maids, oh my fucking god! This is delicious.” It was very gratifying, since I’d followed her advice and used the arugula as the base of the pesto.
I cut the tops off of each pattypan (see picture above) and saved the tops for roasting later on. I also scooped a little more of the pulp out to allow for space for the chickpeas later on. I conserved these scoopings because I thought they’d add a little extra thickness to the chickpeas I was about to sautee. I brushed the scooped pattypans and the pattypan tops with a bit of salted olive oil and popped them in the oven, which I’d heated to 285. I let them sit in there for about 15 minutes while I sauteed the chickpeas.
I took 2 lbs of canned chickpeas and drained and rinsed them thoroughly. Then I chopped up a red onion, a cup of cilantro and the conserved pattypan squash scoopings and tossed them into a frying pan with a little olive oil. I let those caramelize lightly for about 5 minutes and then I added the 2 lbs of chickpeas to the pan and satueed on high heat for about 10 minutes, until the chickpeas had browned slightly and the red onion had softened. I then fully coated the chickpea sautee with the arugula/basil/cilantro pesto. I used just enough of the pesto to coat the chickpeas; I didn’t want them swimming in the pesto.
I removed the pattypans from the oven and turned the oven heat up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I filled the pattypan cups with the chickpea pesto mixture and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top of all of the pattypans expect one (mine 🙁 ). This one I sprinkled with a little extra salt.
When the oven was heated I put the stuffed pattypans back in the oven and let them cook for another 20 minutes.
When the pattypan skin was tender and slightly wrinkled, I removed the pattypans from the oven and placed fresh basil leaves on top of each pattypan (our garden is overflowing with basil…. I am the proud mama of a veritable basil tree!)
While the pattypans were in the oven I cooked the pattypan tops in a frying pan with garlic and salt until they were tender. Before serving, I placed the tops on the stuffed pattypans. Each dinner guest had a stuffed pattypan to her/himself. It was a substantial and delicious main feature to the dinner, well accompanied by salad and summery white wine.