One of the reasons I love summer squash so much is that they are the perfect vegetable to stuff. When cut in half and hollowed they stand as a perfect vessel to hold whatever you care to pile in. And their delicate flesh marries well with any savory ingredient you can imagine. As a matter of fact, summer squash is a subtle vegetable, always happy to take a back seat in any recipe, present for a purpose but highly accommodating to more robust ingredients. In this case those robust ingredients come together to a create mushroom-based stuffing. A stuffing of mushrooms, onion, garlic, and seasoning sauteed in a little bit of olive oil. And then tossed with parsley and crumbly, slightly salty Cotija cheese.
After the squash is stuffed and baked briefly, just long enough for slight browning, out of the oven comes a nutritious and flavorful summertime side dish.
Stuffed Summer Squash
1 t salt, plus more to taste
4 yellow crookneck squash, about 1 1/2 lbs
1 T olive oil
1/2 c diced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 c diced cremini mushrooms
3/4 c Cotija cheese
2 T finely chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium pot, bring water to boil and add 1 t salt and the squash. Reduce to a simmer and cook until squash is tender when pierced with a knife. 10 minutes was my cook time. Drain squash and place in a bowl of ice water until cool enough to handle. Halve the squash lengthwise and gently scoop out the flesh with a melon baller. Place the scooped out flesh in a mesh strainer for 10 minutes.
While the flesh is draining, place a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft - about 3 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and lightly browned - about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash flesh, scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and allow filling to cook slightly.
In a medium bowl, combine the mushroom mixture with cheese, a generous pinch of salt, the parsley and several grinds of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Place the squash shells on the baking sheet and spoon the filling into each shell. Bake until hot and slightly brown, about 30 minutes.
Yields 8 stuffed squash shells, serving 4 - 8.
Source: Adapted from The Los Angeles Times