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WHAT: These cute, little, toy top-shaped squashes come in an array of colours from dark green to almost white to bright yellow or even orange. While they taste similar to other common squash, like zucchini, their greatest appeal is arguably their appearance, so it's advisable to cook them simply and keep them as intact as possible. For a vegetable this attractive, why dice or purée?

WHEN: Generally available throughout the summer

HOW: Chef Gordon Bailey of Lot 30 in Charlottetown, PEI, a restaurant known for its rustic yet refined cuisine, likes the size and versatility of patty pan squash. He offers an easy way to prepare it:

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Sauté them: "Take a nice hot pan and add a little bit of olive oil. Slice them in half so you expose the centre flesh, and put that side down so you get a nice sear on it.

"Add a bit of garlic and shallots, and at the very end, I like to add some cherry tomatoes, which are also in season right now. If they're really small cherry tomatoes, just leave them whole so you get that nice burst of flavour when you bite into them.

"Once the tomatoes are in, cook for another 15 seconds. Usually, I add just a little knob of butter and salt and pepper. The result is, you get the sweetness from the tomatoes, you have the nutty, caramelized flavour from the patty pan squash, and you have a really nice, light, summer sauté."

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