There’s a mini-farmers’ market at one of our favorite spots, Community Q BBQ in Decatur, Georgia. When we stopped by on Saturday, they had these lovely 1 & 8-ball squash that I have never seen before. They are plump and round and fit in the palm of your hand. We picked up two of these, thinking they would be perfect for stuffing. As you can see…yes they were!
Browsing about on the “food porn” sites to see how to handle these squash, I found this beautiful tribute to “Uncle Bob” by Sara Coyne at Culinerapy. Although in my last post I adopted “Grandpa Bill” for his meatloaf, Sara’s post about her uncle Bob is so personal and moving that I don’t feel it’s my place to simply re-post his stuffed zucchini recipe outright. Although I have modified the recipe quite a bit, this recipe unquestionably still belongs to Bob Synes and I encourage you to click on the link and read Sara’s post and uncle Bob’s original recipe. His instructions are quite amusing in his descriptive and quirky style of writing!
I love this recipe because it has an excellent mixture of savory and sweet tastes. We will definitely be having this again! It makes a nice side dish, but would also be a great vegetarian entree.
Ingredients (for 2 squash):
- 2 “1&8-ball” squash, or fairly large zucchini squash
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons oil (I used a mixture of coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil)
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1/3 cup dried fruit (I used dried cranberries)
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (plus a little more for topping)
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 egg, well-beaten
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a few tablespoons of gluten-free bread crumbs, for topping
Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish that will hold the squash.
Saute the onion in the coconut/olive oil mixture over medium-high heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning. Start adding handfuls of the spinach and cook until all the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and add the dried fruit and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside, uncovered, to allow the fruit to plump up with the heat and moisture.
In the meantime, halve the squash, crosswise. Since we had two different squash and two people, I cut them in half. You could also just cut off the tops and cook the caps for a different presentation. Cut a sliver from the bottom of each half so that they will sit up straight. (If you are using large zucchini squash, cut off the ends, then cut crosswise into ~2-inch long pieces.) Hollow out a bowl in the center of the squash, removing the pulpy-seedy part. You can use the squash insides for another recipe, if you desire.
Lightly spray the insides of the squash with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the squash is just beginning to get tender. Remove from oven and pour out any accumulated juices.
Place the spinach mixture in a bowl and mix in the Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Add the egg and mix well. Or as Sara’s uncle Bob says, “Stir it all madly.”
Spoon the spinach mixture into the squash halves. Top with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake until the squash halves are tender, but not mushy, and the tops are lightly browned (around 15 minutes). Serve hot or at room temperature.
“Stir it all madly” might well serve as the motto for today’s soundtrack, Steve Earle. Legendary songwriter, actor and activist, he was for a time his own worst enemy, but has faced his demons and used them to create lasting works of art.
We first encountered the outspoken Texan with Guitar Town in 1986, featuring the classic title cut, “My Old Friend the Blues” and the oft-covered “Someday”. Along with Dwight Yoakam, Earle breathed new life into the country genre, but then the trouble set in. Strung out for years on drugs, he nearly partied himself to death.
But then in 1995 he found himself still alive and with something to say, and the result is the wonderful Train a Comin album, more folk than country, and showing that he hadn’t lost a bit of his songwriting ability on moments such as “Hometown Blues” and “Sometimes She Forgets”. From then on, Steve Earle has been recognized as one of the best- and for good reason.