Patty Pan squash is one of my favorites. It’s very flavorful, easy to cook with, and we get a ton of them come Summer. This recipe takes advantage of its bowl-like shape, and the stuffing can be made with whatever you have on hand or have a tasting for. You also can use Zucchini instead of Patty Pan, just follow the same recipe and make long Zucchini Boats (cut in half and scoop out most of the flesh from the middle), steam, and stuff.
Pick a few fillings from the list, but definitely pick something substantial (a protein, like meat or beans), another filler (a grain or extra veggies), a green, and some sauce. Here we tried ground beef, onions, garlic, chard stems and chard, tomato sauce and smoked cheddar.
Turn your oven to 375. In the bottom of a steam pot, begin to boil 2 or so inches of water. Cut off the "lids" of your squash-- the stem ends-- and set aside. The stems do not need to be cooked, and you can either toss into your compost pile or keep them for decorative serving. Set the rest of the squash in the steamer basket and steam for 7-10 minutes (time ranging on size of squash. Softballs go for longer, baseballs go for shorter.) Remove from the steamer and allow to cool. If you don't have a steamer, you can also boil them whole for 5-7 min, and then plunk in ice water to cool.
Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh from your squash. You're going for a bread-bowl affect-- so make sure the squash walls aren't too thick but substantial enough to stay strong during baking. Brush the inside with a little oil, crack on some salt and pepper, and pre-cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes while you finish preparing your filling. (Pre-cook for only 5 minutes in oven if using zucchini.)
In a little oil or butter, brown your meat (if using) Once it's cooked (remember its still got some cooking time in the oven), remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In the drippings from the meat, or a little oil, cook your onions over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper, and then add the garlic. If you have a hankering for some dried spices here (maybe cumin, paprika, chili powder, etc) add a 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp each here.
If you're using extra veggies like mushrooms, corn or broccoli (florets cut very small, pre-steamed,) add them to the skillet and sauté for a few minutes until they soften.
If using chard, stems first for a minute or two, then greens.
Add back your cooked meat, too, and allow to simmer for a few minutes all together so the flavors begin to combine.
Once your squash have finished pre-cooking, remove from the oven. Scoop in generous portions of the filling and put back in the oven for 15 more minutes. If you're adding grated cheese to the top, sprinkle that over the top of the filling during the last minute or two of baking. Serve them as is, with or without tops, or cut them in half for smaller portions.