These Cheesy Stuffed Summer Squash are my answer to a wonderful problem. I had an abundance of fresh vegetables and needed to use them up. In fact, my yellow squash was getting rather old and a bit wrinkled. But no matter. Instead of heading toward old favorites like ratatouille, Middle Eastern Zucchini Tahini Eggplant Dip, and chilled soup, I was determined to use my zucchini and yellow squash in a delicious new way.
Instead of simply “googling” an online recipe, I consulted my cookbooks through Eat Your Books. If you don’t know EYB as it is called, you should check it out. Anyone who has cookbooks they do not use enough will find that EYB makes your cookbooks more accessible. (This is not an Eat Your Books ad or sponsored post. In fact, EYB doesn’t know I’m writing this. I just love the service and want others to know about it.) By creating a library of your own books, EYB allows you to keyword search for recipes in your books, magazines, and even blogs you follow.
I looked up “stuffed zucchini” on EYB. (More in a moment about why I looked up “zucchini” but instead used “summer squash” in the post.) The recipe I landed on is from Great Food Without Fuss, by Frances McCullough and Barbara Witt. I can’t remember the last time I looked in this 1992 paperback – a perfect example of how EYB helps you make use of cookbooks you already own. Its authors are well-known and well-regarded chefs and cookbook authors, as is Marian Morash, whom they credit as the author of the recipe.
Although the Morash recipe, Zucchini Stuffed with Corn and Cheese, sounded fine, I could not resist tinkering. Unlike hers, my Cheesy Stuffed Summer Squash recipe has chunks of vegetables and a crunchy top. Also, I had a few odds and ends to use up. No food waste during these times if I can help it!
By the way, I have posted a stuffed zucchini recipe before. But that one is meat-based and this one is vegetarian.
Anyway, back to that nagging nomenclature issue:
What is the Difference between Summer Squash and Zucchini?
- Summer squash is a big category. It includes zucchini, but also yellow, pattypan, and globe squash.
- What distinguishes summer from the squash we get in fall and winter (acorn, butternut, etc) is that these squash have tender skin.
- My expert, Elizabeth Schneider, in her book Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini, explains that as well as having tender skin, most of the squash in this category are also small, have mild taste, a high moisture content and are extremely perishable.
How I Made the Cheesy Stuffed Summer Squash
I used both yellow squash and zucchini in this Cheesy Stuffed Summer Squash, because that was what I had. Like many recipes that use the term “zucchini”, this one works with any type of long summer squash.
This would be delicious with fresh corn, which is in season right now around here and plentiful. However, I was out and had to grab a can of Trader Joe’s corn. Still, that corn is pretty good and with fresh herbs it hardly mattered.
The next step was to blanch the summer squash.
You can see that my yellow squash was, shall we say, on its last legs. Good thing I motivated myself to use it for this, before it got too soft and wrinkled.
After cooling down the squash, I chopped the inside and pressed out the moisture.
The bell pepper, onion, and parsley go in first, then the chopped squash.
Then I mixed the filling.
Filling the squash shells, which some people call squash boats, is easy, as long as you’re relatively careful to keep the filling inside each shell or “boat.”
I mix the topping with my hands. You can use a fork if you like. Once you add the topping, the summer squash “boats” go in the oven for less than an hour.
Pretty simple, and the results are delicious. Two of us each had one “boat” as a side dish and saved the two others for the next night. If we’d each eaten two, they would have been an excellent vegetarian main course.
Cheesy Stuffed Summer Squash
This delicious way to use summer squash and corn is a perfect end-of-summer, early fall side or main dish.
Squash "Boats" and Filling
- 2 long summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped 2 5/8 oz/75 g
- 1/4 cup yellow or red onion, chopped 1 3/8 oz/40 g
- 1/4 cup Italian or flat leaf parsley, chopped (leaves only) 1/4 oz/ 10 g
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, made from whole or skim milk 4 1/8 oz/120 g
- 3/4 cup corn kernels 4 1/2 oz/130 g
- 1 tablespoon herbs, fresh or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon salsa optional
- salt and pepper to taste, if necessary
- 1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar Cheese 1 3/4 oz/50 g
- 1/2 cup panko 1 oz/30 g
- paprika (hot, smoked or mild according to your taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/ 180 C. If using a separate casserole from the pan you will use to cook the vegetables, oil or butter the casserole, which should be big enough to fit the four squash halves when filled.
"Boats" and Filling
Boil a few inches of salted water in low, wide pot that fits the squash. Blanch the squash for about 5 minutes, turning them if necessary, so that all sides get in the water for at least part of the time. Take them out of the water, carefully run them under cold water, dry them. Once they are cool, halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out their insides.
Dice the squash insides Drain the diced squash well by putting it in a paper or clean cloth towel and twisting the water out.
Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a medium size pan and cook the bell pepper and chopped onion on medium heat for about 5 minutes until well softened but not browned. Add the parsley and cook for another minute.
Add the diced summer squash insides (well drained) and continue cooking, stirring frequently for another few minutes until the mixture is well combined and the squash is softened and beginning to cook.
In the pan or in a bowl, mix the softened pepper, onion, parsley, and summer squash with the rest of the filling ingredients. Pile the filling into the four squash shells ("boats.")
Mix the panko and grated cheese for the topping. Add one-fourth of the mixture to each squash shell or boat, on top of the filling.
Bake the stuffed squash for about 15 minutes covered. Then uncover and continue baking for about 25-30 minutes, until the shells are tender and the topping is browned.