Once again I've gone to my "go to" cookbook and been happily rewarded. That cookbook is Williams-Sonoma Vegetarian, The Best of the Kitchen Library. I picked this up at Costco months ago and have been slowly working my way through it (adding yet another cookbook to my eight hundred others was a hard sell to JR but he bought my whining, begging, and pleading. Lucky for him!)
Now, for those of you meat eaters most every recipe in this cookbook can be adapted to include meat (I don't want to leave you out. Plus JR demands his daily dose of meat). For those of you who know me; I adapt, change, or substitute almost every recipe I come across. Doesn't matter what recipe.
I'll change it.
I can't help myself!
It's an obsession.
I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Growing summer squash in the summer is an exercise in futility. Growing it in the winter I don't know about but will find out this winter when we plant our garden.
How weird does that sound?
I did find summer (zucchini) squash on sale at my local store (brought in from California I'm sure. I'm not going to quibble!). As an avid sale shopper I bought up a ton of it. Then thought OMG how do I use a ton of it? How do I use a ton of it without the homeboys really knowing about it? The homeboys only like summer squash in moderation. They like it hidden in their food. It really has to be unrecognizable. I think because it smacks of nutrition. One of JR's favorite foods is Captain Crunch cereal. His theory is that if it sticks to your teeth it must be good for you. I have the dental bills to prove it!
Enough about our family dynamics (I was given a stern talking to at dinner tonight about spilling my guts to the world in general. You can see I took it to heart :-).
I'll give you the original recipe then my changes. You get to decide how you want to play with it (I'm all about choices here).
Stuffed Summer Squash
4 zucchini or yellow crookneck squash
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped**see changes
1 clove garlic, minced **see changes
3/4 cup soda cracker crumbs or fine dried bread crumbs**see changes
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or grated Parmesan cheese **see changes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano **see changes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Halve the squashes lengthwise and using a teaspoon, scoop out the centers, leaving a shell about 1/3 inch thick; reserve the centers. Set the prepared vegetables aside.
Prepare a fire for indirect heat cooking in a covered grill. Oil the grill rack and position 4-6 inches above the fire. ***see changes.
Chop the squash centers. In a frying pan over medium high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped squash, onion, and garlic (**see changes) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and any liquid released during cooking has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and add the cracker crumbs, cheese, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper (who really measures this kind of thing? OK who really measures anything when they are cooking. Not me. Only when baking and that's not always a given), and the cream. Stir and toss with a fork to combine.
Brush the outsides of the squash shells with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil; sprinkle with salt. Spoon about 2 tablespoons stuffing into each squash shell, mounding slightly (I really don't believe in slightly).
Arrange the stuffed vegetables on the center of the rack, cover the grill, and open the vents halfway. Grill until the stuffing is browned on top and the vegetables are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife (fork tender is good for me), about 20 minutes.
Serves 3 as a main course, or 4-6 as a side dish.
Now for the changes (I'm just looking out for you. Creativity should be encouraged. Plus, I can't leave well enough alone. Have you noticed?
I kind of decided that this needed to be like pizza or some kind of Italian meal. I think it would be great with a Mexican or East Indian flare also.
1. I chopped up some mushrooms and green peppers to add to the mixture.
2. I added 1 package of soy crumbles but you could add browned ground beef or Italian sausage.
3. Used Italian seasoning instead of just the oregano. (Boring!).
4. I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs (mostly because that's what I had).
5. I baked mine in a 400* oven for about 20 minutes on a greased sheet pan. Then I let them sit for 5 minutes.
6. I happened to have heavy cream in my refrigerator but I think any old milk will do. For East Indian I would use coconut milk. Yummy! Oh no! I'll have to make another batch!
7. 1 clove of garlic? I don't think so. I used 3 small cloves.
8. I didn't have a small onion. Really who does? I used about a half of a big sweet onion. Worked fine!
9. Really? Can you have too much cheese. I don't think so. I put in about a cup or so (more the or so).
Ok so now you are on your own. Fly my babies fly!!!
P.S. Both homeboys thought these were fantastic. Even knowing that they had soy crumbles. Go figure!
P.S.S. I would have had pictures but I loaned my camera to my Homegirl-in-law. She wanted to take pictures of my oldest homeboy's 25th birthday celebration. I can't blame her. Hiting the big 2 5 is a big deal. Wasn't there a picture in the cookbook, you might ask? Yes, there was but my printer/scanner/copier broke the other day. I've been absolutely lost since. I have one on order but U.P.S. keeps passing me by :-(