Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stuffed Courgettes (Summer Squash) in Chunky Tomato Sauce

Call me strange, but I am obsessed with globe zucchini. Surely everyone has some sort of food obsession, right?  Of course. Stranger though, is the fact that globe zucchini are not what is pictured above.  Let me tell you, these are some elusive little darlings around here this summer, particularly when I need them. I saw them at the farmer's market two weeks in a row, but of course last Wednesday they where nowhere to be found.  I've been cooking dinner for the no sugar-no flour person and it came up in conversation he likes middle eastern food. (You can read about all the diet restrictions in the meatball post- and lest I forget to tell... he claims I have thrown him under the bus in the foodie world. Nonsense). Anyhow despite his claims and in my effort to please him I made stuffed courgettes for dinner, without the rice of course.  I used the recipe my middle eastern grandmother used to make, one of my very favorites.  I changed the recipe a bit, watercress would have not made an appearance in hers. I also omitted the rice and did not put whipping cream in the tomato sauce.  While it was a bit different from the original it was still delicious and maybe healthier.

Surprisingly to me the rice was not missed in the recipe at all, if you want to add it though, add 1 cup cooked rice to the cooked meat.  I left the sauce very chunky to help give substance and was pleased with the result. Any summer squash will work fine as a substitute for the zucchini.  Butternut squash would be delicious and hearty in the fall, I would just pre-cook it for a while before filling.  Eight ball or Globe zucchini are much smaller, if you are lucky enough to find them you'll need about 8.  

Stuffed Courgettes

4 large summer squash
1-1/2 lb. ground veal
1/4 cup diced prosciutto
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 bunch watercress, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (loosely packed)
3 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 eggs
olive oil, to drizzle over stuffed squash before cooking
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Slice the tops or sides off the squash, being careful to remove it in one piece- these are the lids.
Carefully scoop out the flesh with a melon baller or grapefruit knife. Reserve some of the flesh (about 1 cup) for the filling. (I try to save flesh from the sections with less seeds). Place hollowed out squash in a baking dish and set aside.

2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil and cook onion until translucent, add celery and prosciutto and saute until onions are lightly golden.  Add garlic and reserved squash flesh and saute 2 minutes longer.  Add veal, breaking any large chunks of meat up gently and cook stirring occasionally until meat is browned.  Add watercress, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until watercress has given its water out and wilted.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.  Taste meat and adjust seasonings.

3. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly with a fork.  Add meat and mix thoroughly.  Stuff the squash with the meat mixture, place a lid on each one and return to the baking dish.

4. Pour the tomato sauce around the stuffed squash in the baking dish.  At this point, you can either refrigerate until ready to bake, or place directly in the oven.  Bake uncovered, in a 350 F preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

Chunky Tomato Sauce

3 (28-ounce cans) whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1. In a large stock pot, cook onions in oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.

2.  Stir in tomatoes and their juice, salt and black pepper.  Simmer sauce, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 40 minutes.  Add oregano and taste for salt.

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