A really useful recipe is one which doesn’t tie you to specific ingredients, allowing you to substitute at will. This idea of cooking slices of squash in butter with a little vermouth and herbs can be tweaked according to whatever variety you have to hand, be it courgette, pumpkin, butternut or, as here, cute little patty pans. I suggest cobnuts here, but the new season’s hazelnuts would be good, too.

Serves 2 as a side dish
patty pan 400g, or other small squash
butter 35g
white vermouth 80ml
sage leaves 4
shell-on cobnuts a handful, or hazelnuts

If any of the patty pan squash are larger than a golf ball, cut them in half horizontally. Melt the butter in a shallow pan, add the vermouth then the patty pans. Drop in the sage leaves and sprinkle on a little salt. Cover with a lid, letting the squashes simmer in the wine and butter for about 20 minutes until tender to the point of a knife. Keep the heat fairly low, basting the vegetables regularly with the pan juices.

While the squashes cook, crack the cobnuts or hazelnuts and remove them from their shells. Add the nuts to the pan, grind over a little black pepper then serve, spooning over the buttery juices as you go.