So my garden is still alive! And not just alive, it's still growing vegetables -- some we've been able to pick and eat (like zucchini) and some I'm still waiting on (like the peppers and tomatoes). I had two pattypan squashes growing, and after hemming and hawing over when was the right time to pick them, I finally harvested them at 3 to 4 inches wide, the perfect size for stuffing. With a zucchini ready for picking around the same time, I decided to develop a stuffing recipe with enough for both kinds of squash.
I'm often drawn to pairing zucchini with sausage, so I started there. As I ran through the possible "filler" stuffing components in my head -- rice, couscous, Israeli couscous, quinoa, bread crumbs -- quinoa sounded most intriguing. An onion, some tomato paste, and a little mozzarella later, and my idea was complete. How good do those things sound together?
To make the stuffing, I simply cooked up the couscous, sauteed the onion and sausage, stirred them all together, added tomato paste and mozzarella, and finished with a little salt and pepper. It tasted great, and I knew it would be even better inside my home-garden-grown squash.
Pattypan squashes may look small, but as I hollowed them out, I realized that they really do have a lot of space for stuffing. Just make sure to scoop under the meaty top ridge. Then really pack the stuffing in there so it fills the whole cavity. As I was hollowing out the zucchini, Jeff (who doesn't even like zucchini by the way) walked in and made a comment about how I grew the zucchini and didn't I feel bad throwing away the middle. Nope, not really when it gets replaced with a stuffing this flavorful.
Once I had the squash jam-packed and mounded with stuffing, I simply baked them for about 45 minutes. Then I topped them with some shredded mozzarella and broiled them so the cheese would get all melty. (Oh, and I baked the pattypan squash lids, just because I thought they'd look cute for serving. There's not really much to eat there, but they do make for a fun presentation.)
I put a pattypan squash and a zucchini half on each plate and served them with a little warm marinara sauce on the side. My friend and I were clean plate club members that night. We found the pattypan squash to have slightly thicker skin and a firmer texture than the zucchini, which was great for a little variety. We really loved the quinoa in the stuffing. It had just the right texture to hold its own against the tender squash. The salty, meaty chunks of sausage added interest, while the onions didn't really present much in the way of texture but gave a subtle background flavor. I was really happy with how this dish turned out. It makes a hearty but not heavy meal for two.
These would even make a great starter. I'm already thinking about doubling the stuffing, using about eight pattypan squashes, and serving the stuffed squashes as an appetizer at a dinner party.
Pattypan squashes and zucchini filled with a savory sausage-and-quinoa stuffing
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Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield: 2 servings
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, plus extra for sprinkling on top
Salt and pepper
2 pattypan squashes
Marinara sauce, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Set aside off heat.
Cook sausage and onion in large skillet over medium heat, breaking up sausage into small pieces with wooden spoon, until sausage and onion are nicely browned, about 15 minutes. (Sausage should render enough fat to cook onions in, but you can add olive oil too if you want. I added a small splash.)
Transfer sausage and onions and quinoa to large mixing bowl. Stir in tomato paste until combined.
Stir in mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Halve zucchini and scoop out middles using large spoon. Cut tops off pattypan squashes and scoop out middles. (Save the tops to bake along with the squash if you want to use them for serving.)
Drizzle oil in broiler-safe baking dish. Place squashes cut sides up in dish. Brush squash cavities and insides of pattypan squash tops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Pack stuffing into squash cavities and mound it on top, using all the stuffing.
Bake until squash is tender (check it with a fork), 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Remove pan from oven, and remove pattypan squash tops from pan.
Preheat broiler. Sprinkle mozzarella over stuffed squashes and broil until cheese is bubbly and melted.
Serve, with marinara sauce if desired.
What's your favorite kind of squash? Zucchini, pattypan, butternut, and delicata are at the top of my list.