I love going for walks in the evening these days. It is so perfect just as the moon creeps up behind the Watermelon Mountains and the air is fresh and cool. I enjoy walking along the ditch banks underneath the ancient cottonwoods and elms. The sunlight filters through their branches in a soft amber glow. I always pass a group of velvet black cows grazing in the sweet green grass beneath the apple trees. I pass faded red barns and under the canopy where a great horned owl once perched last autumn and I always yearn to see him there again.
Even if I only have the time for a short walk, it certainly opens my eyes to the world around me. It reminds me to savor this transition from summer to fall, since it always happens so fast and is so easy to miss.
Since I really do see this time of year as an overlaping of seasons, I prefer to use recipes that also blend the flavors of the two seasons. This particular pilaf is one that my family really enjoys in the fall and winter months. But when I came across these large white patty pans I thought that it would be the ideal stuffing for them.
I used a blend of wild and mahogany rice for this dish, but it would really work with a great variety of rices. I also enjoy forbidden rice which is a beautiful dark purple color. The nut and dried fruit variety used in the pilaf can also change from season to season. To me sour cherries seem so summery, sunny and bright. And a mild green olive is a perfect but unexpected contrast in flavor, adding a slight saltiness to the dish.
Patty Pan Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice Pilaf
makes 3 servings
3 large patty pan squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1/2 cup wild rice, cooked
1 1/2 cups black, mahogany, or brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup mild green olives, chopped
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, steam the patty pans until they are slightly tender, but not too soft. Take them out of the pot to cool. Lay out the chopped pecans on a cookie sheet or small pan and toast them in the oven or a toaster oven. Set them aside.
2. In a cast iron skillet heat the olive oil and saute the shallots until they are lightly browned. Leave the stove top on medium heat and mix in both rices, olives, dried cherries, toasted pecans, and salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes and then take the pilaf off the heat.
3. When the patty pans are cool, cut a circle around the stem and pop off the top as you do when carving a pumpkin. Scoop out the insides with a melon baller, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 an inch on all sides. Fill each squash with the pilaf.
4. Place the filled patty pans in a cake pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake them in the oven set at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
Recipe from the kitchen of Cirque Du Souffle :)