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Friday, July 8, 2011

After The Party

Whew. The three-day Fourth of July weekend was an adventure in unabashed gluttony. During the holiday, we devoured gyros, pizza slices, smothered loaded hot dogs, fried fish, chips, cupcakes, funnel cakes, and Kettle Korn.  Festival food.  All washed down with hundreds of cocktails from various street bars, beer vendors, drag clubs, and gay bars. It was crazy fun,  unrivaled revelery, and  utter debauchery.  When it finally wound down, we were exhausted.

We needed a break. 

We needed calm food.

During the celebratory weekend, we failed to grocery shop.  Who had time?  Why bother? There was plenty to eat and drink on every corner of every street. When the fun died down and we actually had to eat at home, I had to resort to what we had tucked away in the pantry and refrigerator to feed our cheery wearied souls.

Thankfully, I had the basics stashed away.  Combined with pieces and parcels of other things, I managed to pull together a peaceful meal.  I had forgotten about market fresh  pattypan squash buried in the vegetable bin under zucchini, cucumbers, scallions, snow peas, and gnarly carrots. They weren't the cute one-bite tiny ones more suited to a quick saute. They were a bit larger and required some thought.  I didn't want to simply cut them up and cook them.

When I was a kid, Marge cooked fresh yellow squash and mashed the pulp with cream cheese, salt, and pepper. They were fabulous. Over the years, I've adapted her squash recipe by stuffing it back into the hollowed out cooked yellow squash shells.

I thought something like that could work with the saucer shaped pattypan squash.

I had a plan.

I sliced the tops off the pattypan squash, reserved their lids, and scooped out a small hole in each squash using a melon baller. After mixing fresh goat cheese with snipped chives, I filled and mounded the squash with the herbed cheese.  I tossed together panko bread crumbs, paprika and fresh parsley.

Once it was thoroughly blended, I rolled the goat cheese topped squash through the breadcrumbs, gently patting the crumbs into the cheese.  After cranking the oven to 400 degrees, I slid the squash into the oven and let them roast for about 35 minutes, until they were browned and tender.

While the squash roasted away, I sauteed asparagus tips until they were crisp tender, sliced roasted red bell peppers into thin strips, halved a few grape tomatoes from the back deck, and quartered small yellow bell pepper tomatoes from Best Family Farm. After tossing the vegetables into a bowl along with a  handful of fresh spinach leaves, I lightly dressed the salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette.

While still recovering from the barrage of margaritas, gimlets, vodka tonics, and shots from the previous festive days, I joined Michael in the parlor for several soothing glasses of wine.

Welcome home, reckless revelers.
When it was time to eat, I gave the salad a final toss, plated it,  and nestled the roasted goat-cheese encrusted pattypan squash into the dressed spinach leaves, letting the tomatoes, asparagus tips, and roasted peppers tumble where they may.

For a note of luxurious soft saltiness, I tucked thinly sliced prosciutto ribbons into the salad alongside the roasted squash.
It was fantastic. The slightly sweet white balsamic vinaigrette whispered subtle acidity, providing a gentle brightness to the roasted sweet squash. The crispy goat cheese was ridiculous. It didn't melt while roasting. At all. Suspended under the crispy breadcrumbs as if it were a savory mousse, the tangy smooth goat cheese was as light as air.

The excessive holiday party was great fun,
but there's nothing quite like a quiet afterparty.
At home.

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