I couldn't come up with a better name. Or a shorter one. Unless you count the working name of "Stack" as a good title for this recipe. It works, but doesn't sound all that appetizing.
We're growing pattypan squashes for the first time this year, and they are a wonderful crop. We have one plant, and I don't know how many little squashes we've harvested so far, but there is no end in sight.
The other morning we picked five, and one zucchini.
Besides these, we had about 4 other pattypan inside and a couple more zucchini. And one little eggplant. And we needed to eat them.
It's been hot and humid here the last several days, and while I'd been originally thinking of doing some kind of pasta and fresh vegetable dish, I didn't feel like boiling a big pot of water and boiling up the kitchen at the same time. And I didn't feel like making pizzas or focaccia that day. So instead, in order to avoid as much heat as possible (hahahaha), I broke out my griddle and, yes, cooked several sliced yellow pattypan squashes, the eggplant, and more. Yes, SO much more refreshing and cool than boiling water or baking something in the oven…
Anyway, here's the rest of what I did. And keep in mind, this was all for the sake of using vegetables AND making a visually pleasing plate of food.
I sliced the pattypan squashes into circles about 1/4-1/2 of an inch thick. I got about 4-5 slices per squash. I also sliced the eggplant into (roughly) 1/4 circles…
And then – still going with the circle theme here – I got out a tube of pre-cooked polenta and sliced THAT into circles, about 1/3 of an inch thick.
And finally, I got out a can of salmon, drained the contents, and mixed that up with a finely chopped garlic scape, a couple of eggs, about half a cup or so of bread crumbs, salt and pepper. When it was all combined, I shaped the mixture into about 10 balls. Yes, again with the circle theme.
* A little tip – when forming balls or patties or cakes with any kind of meat or fish, it helps prevent sticking if you dip your hands in some cold water before you begin, and then again after every couple of balls. Or patties. Or cakes.
I put the salmon balls in the fridge (it was way too hot to leave them out, and I planned to cook them last) and then I fired up the two burners underneath my griddle.
By the way – sorry, no more process pictures til the end. I wasn't even sure I was going to write this one up until the end. I should know better by now – I should just take pictures no matter what I think going into it. But this isn't a terribly difficult thing to make, so I don't think you really need the step by step by step photos anyway.
Okay. Once the griddle was hot, I painted it with some vegetable oil and placed all my circles of pattypan squash on to cook. While they were sizzling away, I painted the top sides of the squashes with more oil and sprinkled them with some salt and pepper. When they were soft and slightly browned on both sides, I drained them on paper towels and stowed them away in the warming drawer of my oven.
I basically repeated the same process with the slices of eggplant and the sliced polenta, and then the salmon. For the salmon – I placed the balls on the griddle and then gently pressed them down into cakes about 1/2 an inch thick or so. As each food finished cooking, into the warming drawer it went.
While things were grilling, I was thinking about how to serve them. I knew I was going to stack everything, kind of like a Napoleon, but I thought I needed more than just the four components.
I had some fresh mozzarella sliced and sitting in salted water in the fridge. It was a batch I made with half whole milk and half nonfat milk last week and I didn't like the taste or the texture at all. As both my sister-in-law and my husband said, it was squeaky. It didn't get soft and stretchy enough at all, even though I had the hot whey at 195 and up while I was trying to work with it. (And no rubber gloves for me while handling the scalding hot whey! I've got chef hands, remember! And I'm stupid AND a showoff, too!)
Anyway, I had put the bland and squeaky mozzarella in a bowl of salted water because I figured it would both flavor and soften the cheese, and it did, actually, so I was slightly pleased with myself for that. I thought the slices of mozzarella would go nicely in between layers of squash and polenta and salmon cakes, and the heat from the cooked items would also melt the cheese a bit.
I also made a little sauce or dressing to drizzle on top. I whisked together roughly a third of a cup of olive oil, about a tablespoon of roasted garlic puree that I had in the fridge a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and about a quarter cup of grated romano cheese.
So, once everything was cooked and I had my game plan for assembly worked out, I plated one and took some pictures (while my family waited impatiently forks in hands and stomachs growling…). I was working with the late afternoon sun that streams in through one of the kitchen windows, which is the reason for the kinds of shadows I got. I kind of liked the effect – to me, it says "HOT, HUMID DAY, BUT WITH FOOD FROM THE GARDEN!"
And how did it taste? Well, predictably, the kids didn't like in its entirety – the each tore it apart and ate the layers they liked. And that was fine – they each had some of it.
Bill loved it, and I thought it was pretty good, too. And just think – as more of our round or cylindrical vegetables ripen, I could make new versions, taller versions…skyscrapers on a plate.
Food is fun.