April 3, 2011

Summer Squash Stuffed with Ricotta

Squash originated in the Americas and the genus Curcurbita has been cultivated for thousands of years. Summer squash, like zucchini, are fruits from the species C. pepo. Summer squash are harvested when still immature so that their rind is still tender and therefore edible. Due to their tenderness, summer squash have a shorter storage life than their winter counterparts. Summer squash are versatile vegetables, being so tender and mild, and I like cooking with them often. The ricotta filling accompanies the squash well with a subtle but rich flavor. I have served stuffed squash with gnocchi and arugula pesto or creamy polenta.

Zucchini may be used instead of summer squash.

2 medium summer squash, halved

1 medium carrot, trimmed and finely diced

1 stalk celery, trimmed and finely diced

1 small yellow onion, trimmed and finely diced

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped

¼ c parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling

1 c ricotta

¼ c breadcrumbs

1 small tomato, sliced into thin rounds

salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven 375 degrees. Using a spoon, scoop seeds and pulp from squash halves until the shells are roughly ¼ inch thick. Brush with olive oil and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes, add garlic and remove from heat.

3. Combine ricotta, parsley, breadcrumbs and sautéed ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Fill each squash half with ricotta mixture until level with rim. Place halves in a baking dish with filling sides up, lay tomato rounds on top of filled squash and drizzle with olive oil.

5. Bake squash halves until lightly browned and tender, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool, 5-10 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Makes 4 stuffed squash


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