Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Stuffed Squash

So, can anyone actually tell the difference between zucchini and yellow squash?  I mean, I know there's a difference.  But if I boiled a pot of mixed zucchini and squash, buttered it, then ate it with my eyes closed...?  No way could I tell you which is which.  No way.

But that doesn't mean that they're not both delicious!  Honestly though, I'd probably choose zucchini if someone forced me to pick one.  Because zucchini bread?  Amazing.  Zucchini cake?!  Even more amazing.  My good friend Kristin has a kiiiiiiller zucchini cake recipe, and I'd make it right this second if I didn't have to make a batch of cupcakes and a red velvet cake for a couple of birthdays coming up this weekend.

But guess what?  The other day, I discovered that people actually can make dessert breads out of yellow summer squash.  I'm thinking I might try that out, since I have a couple paddy pan squashes in my fridge.  I also STILL have two zucchinis and a crookneck squash.  And three tomatoes, a peach, an anaheim pepper, and a cob of corn.  Farmer's market time!  Also, the time of year when people give away produce like crazy.  I love it!

Oh, and right, this recipe.  I've seen a couple recipes for stuffed squash, and I definitely was excited to try it out myself.  A few tips now that I've given it a trial run:
>If your squashes are BIG, give them a pre-cook for 10-15 minutes to get them soft.
>Use basically any fresh veggies you have in the house.  That's what makes it summery!
>The pickled peppers?  Those are awesome.  The recipe is here, and peppers are cheeeeap this time of year.  It's wonderfully sweet and a great kick of spice.  Try it!
>Breadcrumbs are great crumbled on top for some toasty crunch.  But when you don't have that on hand, do as I do and grab whatever snack chip you have.  I had some Doritos.  But I think salt & vinegar potato chips would be fantastic.

Summer Stuffed Squash
Makes 4 servings

2-3 slices bread
2 zucchini or yellow squashes
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
1/2 c. corn kernels sliced off a fresh cob
1/4 c. pickled peppers, finely chopped
1/4 c. breadcrumbs (or crushed chips)
1/4 c. finely shredded cheese
chopped herbs
balsamic vinegar

Chop bread into a small dice.  Toss with a touch of olive oil and place under a broil for 3-5 minutes, or until toasty.  Watch carefully so they don't burn.  Set aside in a bowl.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse the squashes.  If the outside is tough or bumpy, use a peeler to peel off the skin.  Slice down the center, lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds.  Line up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. If the squashes are large (over 9-10 inches, 3 inches across),  pre-cook by putting them into the oven as you cook the filling.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat.  Add a glug of olive oil.  Add onion, bell pepper, and ground beef, and season well with salt and pepper.  Stir around pan for a couple minutes.  Add in garlic, oregano, and paprika, and stir to coat.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Add the tomatoes and corn, and saute until the beef is cooked through and tomatoes begin to break down.

Pull the squashes out of the oven (if pre-cooking).  Pour the beef mixture over the toasted bread cubes.  Add the pickled peppers, and use tongs to toss all ingredients together.  Immediately fill the squashes with the beef filling, before the bread gets too soft.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs or chips over the filling, about a tablespoon per squash.  Put into oven for about 15 minutes.  Top with shredded cheese, and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and the cheese is bubbly and brown.

Top with chopped herbs (I used a mix of cilantro and arugula), and a touch of balsamic.

Mmmm.... summer.

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