When Your Favorite Flavor is Crunch

By Hip Torres | Briana Balducci

By

Hip Torres
Briana Balducci
Pattypan Squash, Dill Mascarpone, Tomato Emulsion, and Pickled Onions
Pattypan Squash, Dill Mascarpone, Tomato Emulsion, and Pickled Onions

They’re big, and they’re spectacular. “The squashes love the Texas heat!” says Chef Nic Yanes of East Austin’s Juniper. The pattypans on which he builds a celebratory springtime dish are six inches in diameter, and they dominate the plate with their playful curves. Yanes slices the gratuitous pattypan in half horizontally and treats them as steaks. But it’s not succulence he’s after. Yanes is pursuing a resounding crunch. “Summer squashes are tricky to cook, due to their water content. We set out to do a simple technique with curing the squash to remove some of its moisture and gain a very desirable final texture.” 

Rolling in from Tecolote Farms, this impressive, scallop-edged pattypan squash is sliced and scored before luxuriating overnight in a sugar-salt cure decked out with lemon, thyme, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. 

Grilled over post oak until tender, a pleasant char offers up a bitter smokiness that offsets the unrelenting freshness of the squash. 

Adding classic Italian technique and some much-needed carbs, the garlicky tomato emulsion is thickened with focaccia, spiked with rich, nutty Sherry vinegar, and plated in Rubenesque orbs.

Precise without being fussy, Yanes adds beet scraps to his brine, giving precious pickled pearl onion petals an electric magenta hue and bringing an earthy-sweet dimension to lighten up the entire dish. 

A sucker punch of dill in a creamy swoosh of mascarpone is addictive. 

Raw, rolled zucchini ribbons accentuate freshness and crunch. 

Get the recipe for Nic Yanes' Cured and Grilled Pattypan, Squash, Dill Marscapone, Tomato Emulsion, Pickled Onions

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