In the 1905 English translation of Vilmorin's The Vegetable Garden, the author says that, "there is waste in not gathering vegetables in the tender state." The Vilmorin dynasty traces its seed-saving and selling fortunes back to Pierre Andrieux, the chief seed supplier and botanist to King Louis XV. The Vilmorin company has since grown into the fourth largest seed supplier in the world, swallowing up well-known international seed brands -- Ferry Morse in the US and Kyowa Seeds in Japan to name just a couple. So they might have a vested interest in making sure their customers aren't letting vegetables mature and go to seed, especially those rare, open pollinated heirlooms their ancient catalogs are known for.
In the case of the Pattison Panache Verte et Blanc though -- an heirloom summer squash that was once listed in Vilmorin's catalogs in the 1800's -- we'll ignore possible conflict of interest and nod fervently in agreement. The Pattison Panache is prime -- delectable, nutty and sweet -- in its sea foam green, tulip-shaped youth. Windrose Farm is harvesting them now and expects to have them for another month.
The name, the Verte et Blanc part, refers to what happens to the Pattison Panache when it achieves maturity: That soft celadon skin evolves from monochromatic to deep green and white striped. It looks great in a fall centerpiece, and if you're seed-saving, it's a nice way to tell when the squash is done. But for eating, it's a bit too fibrous and mealy.
The young Pattison Panache at Windrose measure between two and four inches across and have a cupped, bell shape that actually helps with the prep. Nubby side down, it stays in place while you slice, unlike other less cooperative patty pan-type squashes. Slice like pie and simply saute, says Windrose owner Barbara Spencer.
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"It doesn't need much," says Spencer. "It's really creamy. One customer said she coated and fried it, but I thought that would be too much. Keep it simple."
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