Pattypan squash with a cheesy bacon stuffing

StuffedPattyPanTitle © J Horak-Druiff 2013


A colleague whose mother tongue is not English once confided in me that to her, the most annoying thing that Brits do is to speak in idioms and then look surprised when people don’t understand what they are getting at. If you think about it, the entire English language is peppered with idioms, some so ingrained that we use them without thinking about it.  But we forget that to a foreigner who might be trying to assign a literal meaning to our words, it sounds as if we are talking utter nonsense.

  • A little bird told me that you have not been well.
  • He’ll be back soon – he’s just gone to see a man about a dog.
  • They finally arrived, a day late and a dollar short.
  • I’ve just moved to a different company and it’s a whole new kettle of fish.
  • He should be careful – she’s leading him up the garden path.

PattypanGroup © J Horak-Druiff 2013


My particular favourite (and probably the bane of the non-native English speaker’s life) are the multitude of English expressions that seem to directly contradict each other:

  • Great minds think alike – but fools never differ
  • Absence makes the heart grow finder – but out of sight out of mind
  • You’re never too old to learn – but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks
  • Better safe than sorry – but nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • The bigger the better – but size isn’t everything


PattyPanBaby © J Horak-Druiff 2013


It was this final set of expressions that sprang to mind earlier this week when news reached my ears this week that Avozillas, giant South African avocados that are at least five times the size of normal avocados, are going on sale at selected branches of Tesco this weekend.  I can’t imagine there will be too many of them available as the marketing machine tells me that the entire harvest is produced by just four specially bred trees, but who can resist the lure of an avocado that’s 20cm long and weights 1.5 kg?

What is it about supersized things that so captures the human imagination?  The tallest building; the longest bridge; the biggest yacht… it certainly seems that although we are constantly told that “It’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean”, size definitely does matter. I’d go so far as to say we’re obsessed with it, and nowhere more so than in the quietly competitive atmosphere of the local allotments.  Just page through your local newspaper in Autumn and you will doubtlessly see a story about some bloke with a prize-winning giant marrow that would make a nun blush, or carrot as long as a golf club.   A quick trawl of the interwebs produced the following prize-winning Frankenveggies:  an  11.2kg  sweet potato;  a 56kg marrow; a 34.4kg green cabbage; a 122kg watermelon (Baby’s not carrying THAT one!); an  8.5kg carrot; a 766kg pumpkin;  a 15.8 kg broccoli; an embarrassingly long 90cm cucumber.


PattyPanGrowing © J Horak-Druiff 2013

Even when blokes aren’t digging special beds and hand-pollinating their marrows (not a euphemism!) to grow the prize winner, it seems that they subscribe to the bigger-is-better school of thought on their allotment. Nick, as I have said previously, has managed to grow som zucchini cudgels that look more like weapons of mass destruction than vegetables; and his crop of butternuts contains some specimens the size of which I have never seen in my life. The first few pattypan squashes that he brought home were the normal size you’de see in supermarkets in South Africa – maybe 7 or 8cm in diameter.  But then he neglected to pick for a few days – literally just a few days – and then he started bringing home these giant pattypans – easily 14cm across. Frankenpatty.


PattypanHands © J Horak-Druiff 2013


But as luck would have it, these are absolutely ideal for stuffing – far more so than the smaller specimens that are just too fiddly and are best enjoyed whole – so that’s what we did.  They’re also ideal for cubing and making barbecue kebabs out of, but that’s a whole other story. The stuffing is pretty flexible – I can imagine it would also work well with some substitutions (feta instead of Parmesan; or maybe chorizo instead of bacon), and of course it would also work well in just plain old ordinary stuffed marrows, but the slightly firmer and less watery consistency of the pattypans make them ideal for this dish.

Other bloggers cooking with pattypans include:




StuffedPattyPanFinal © J Horak-Druiff 2013


4.5 from 2 reviews
Pattypan squash with a cheesy bacon stuffing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
If you are growing your own pattypan squash or can get your hands on some larger specimens, then this should be your go-to recipe. Quick, delicious, and a little bit fun!
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
  • 2 large pattypan squash
  • 150g bacon lardons
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 slices of bread, processed into soft breadcrumbs
  • 50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place the whole squashes in a large steamer and steam for 10 minutes, or until soft enough for a sharp knife to be able to pass fairly easily through them.
  3. Remove from the steamer and slice the top off the squash. Using a teaspoon (or ideally, a melon baller) , scoop the fleshy centres and pips out of the squashes. Be careful not to break the skin. Chop the flesh into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Over medium heat, fry the onion together with the bacon (if the bacon is not very fatty, you may have to add a splash of oil) and add the garlic after 2-3 minutes. Fry until the bacon begins to brown, then add the reserved squash flesh and cook until it is heated through.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Season with the thyme and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Carefully spoon the stuffing into each squash, making sure you get stuffing into all the nooks and crannies until the squash is overflowing.
  7. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top of the stuffing and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, just long enough for the squash to be piping hot through and the cheese melted.


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    • Jeanne says

      Oh yes, we have them in green too – and a neighbour grew a white one! Love them and as you say, great on the grill – they definitely have a “meatier” texture than zucchini so they grill better :)

  1. says

    I can’t imagine an avocado that enormous! :-) A friend of mine who was a nanny used to entertain her charges by giving them avocado pits and a bucket of water to play with. The pits were so slippery in the water that they had a marvelous time. I bet they’d LOVE the giant pits that are in those big ones. :-) Stuffed squash sounds scrumptious. :-)

    • Jeanne says

      LOL – yes, avocado pits are like the slipperiest things on the planet! Teflon has noting on them… The squash is perfectly, deliciously autumnal!

    • Jeanne says

      Everything is better stuffed with bacon and cheese 😉 And yes – a perfect autumnal dish, like a sweet mini pumpkin!

  2. says

    And then there is all that irritating quoting we do from obscure children’s shows and adverts from 30 years ago, must seem like we’re talking in code half the time. There’s nothing like moving country, still with the same language and finding that half the cultural references are different, just because we had different adverts – I’ve had to learn several jingles from ancient SA TV since I’ve been here – thanks goodness for naff 80s song lyrics – they all seem to be the same!
    Must try planting some patty pan squash this year – looks like a lovely way of cooking them.

    • Jeanne says

      So true – I remember coming to the UK and hearing all these references like “Here’s one I made earlier” and having NO CLUE what they were on about! Luckily I was fully immersed in UK eighties music culture via subscriptions to No. 1 and Smash Hits and the occasional NME, so yes, at least I get the 80s song lyrics references 😉 Our patty pans grew like weeds so you should not struggle at all.