Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Stuffed Summer Squash
My friend Amber is quite the gardener, and she was kind enough to share some yellow squash from her garden. Now, farmers markets aren't big where I live, and I myself have no gardening abilities whatsoever, so when someone shares fresh fruits or vegetables that they grew, I feel like it needs to be treated with honor--not just thrown into any old recipe.
Making Green Eggs and Potatoes the other day whet my appetite for creating my own dish, so to use Amber's gorgeous yellow squash, I decided to be inventive rather than follow a recipe. This actually ended up being a "use whatever's on hand" kind of meal, but I feel good about keeping the yellow squash in the spotlight.
Now, what you're going to find below is what I'm calling a pseudo-recipe. I'm sharing some cooking methods and ideas for ingredients. But I believe that a dish like this is so versatile, with so many interchangeable elements, that it seems a bit silly to me to meticulously measure ingredients and follow a strict ingredients list.
So feel free to use my pseudo-recipe as a guide or a point of inspiration . . . and be creative! Get in the kitchen and play around with ingredients that you like and have on hand! If you end up with too much filling, just nibble on it while the squash cooks, or save it for another use. If the flavors don't taste quite right, add some more herbs or salt/pepper. If the filling seems dry and crumbly, add some more cheese, or even an egg yolk (just be sure it fully cooks). This is a very forgiving kind of dish, so just have fun with it!
Stuffed Summer Squash
a pseudo-recipe by HercheyK
Cook the squash: Pierce a large yellow squash (or multiple smaller ones) all over with a fork. Microwave for 4 minutes. Let sit in microwave for 5 minutes. Remove and cut in half (to make two long halves). Scoop out the insides and add to your filling, discard, or save for another use. Alternatively, you could do bell peppers (probably boil them rather than microwave) or tomatoes (I'm not sure what cooking method you'd do here, as I've never done stuffed tomatoes).
Now make your filling by sauteing some chopped vegetables, grains/beans/ground meat, herbs, and cheese over medium to medium high heat. I used carrot, celery, green onion, frozen corn, tomato, fresh parsley, and garlic; some cooked quinoa; some dried basil, thyme, salt, and pepper; a splash of chardonnay; and a bit of feta cheese. Things like garlic, tomatoes, and feta should go in near the end. The goal in this step is to begin cooking the vegetables and warm anything that started out cold (like quinoa you cooked the night before). If you have pepper jack cheese in your fridge, use it in this! The feta was good, but I think pepper jack would have been killer with the vegetables I used.
Taste your filling and adjust herbs, salt/pepper, etc., if needed. When you're happy with it, spoon the filling into your squash/vegetable boats. You'll probably make a mess. If you don't, please teach me how you did it!
If you want, do a crumb topping. I used a bit of panko bread crumbs, some Penzeys Rocky Mountain spice/cheese blend, and a bit of olive oil. Parmesan would also be a great option, with any combination of herbs. If you don't have panko, you could use crushed up crackers or regular bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top.
Bake in a preheated oven (350ish) for 10-15 minutes--just long enough to brown the crumb topping and finish cooking the vegetables.
Garnish with any additional herbs--fresh basil, green onions, thyme . . . you get the idea. Dig in!