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Friday, September 12, 2014

VEGETABLE SUPPER

Stuffed Crookneck Squash


Crookneck squash are a yellow summer squash with a tender, edible skin (unless cross pollinated and over large), and lots of vitamins and minerals. They may be almost any shade of yellow from orange-ish to green-ish, and have smooth or bumpy skin. Some may have very little 'crook,' and some may have a deep curl. Some may be cucumber or ball shaped.

From 'The Good Cook: Vegetables'
I found a delicious recipe a few years ago.
I make it when I have crooknecks.
Some crooknecks grow without a crook.
This year I was gifted some that are like baseballs.
Thanks, Jodean. I love them!!
Perfect for dinner.

ready to go into the oven

I found the recipe a bit confusing.
If you use it, read it ALL THE WAY, carefully.

I find it best to get an overall picture in my mind of what I am trying to do. In this case, I am going to cut a slice from the top of the squash, clean out the seeds, and fill it with a mixture of soft breadcrumbs, chopped squash (from the slice I cut from the top), and seasonings (onions, parsley, Parmesan, butter, salt and pepper).

I like to get all the ingredients and utensils ready, and then start cooking.

When I actually have a crookneck squash that is 'crooked' I cut a slice along the length - just enough to give me access to the seeds. The sliced top piece, and if the squash is larger often some of the solid, 'crooked' end (where there are not seeds); I parboil, chop finely, and use as part of the stuffing.

Step 1: READ the recipe!
            All the way through!
            Go shopping if you need
                  real butter,
                  fresh Parmesan,
                  fresh parsley etc.

Step 2: Pick the squash, (just saying!) or beg it from someone that has too many.

Step 3: While you are in the garden, pull an onion and pick lots of nice fresh parsley. If you didn't grow any parsley, think ahead and buy it. Fresh parsley is a key ingredient. Next year you will know better and grow some. Yes, dried parsley can be used, but I just don't think it tastes very nice - it tastes - well - dried!

Warning: Parsley tends to grow where it wants to and not where you plant it. Deal with it. The flavor is worth it.

When you come in, after you wash up, and have a snack (if you didn't have enough while in the garden eating green beans, a cuke,  and possibly a carrot or two you rubbed clean on your jeans) start a large pot of water (add a shake or two of salt) to use to parboil the squash.  And dig out the perfect sized casserole dish/pan - and turn on the oven (375°F).

just rinsed and dripping dry

Step 4: Wash the parsley and drain it well. Pat it dry if needed. Chop it into small flakes until you have a generous 1/4 cup. (I clip it with my scissors.)


Also peel the onion, and finely chop about 1/2  cup.
Set aside the onion and parsley in separate bowls to use in the stuffing.

Here you see my 'baseball' squash with a slice cut from the top.
The first cut wasn't deep enough so I just sliced deeper.
Then wash the squash, and trim the stem, blossom and any defects. I do not peel them.

If you cut a bit deep just hollow the seeds out of the 'lid.'

Step 5: Cut a slice from the top - just enough to access the seeds and clean the seeds out of the cavity. Clean all the seeds and mushy stuff out - get down to the solid flesh. Mushy stuff is yucky. No one wants mushy stuff in their mouth.

These were too small to have much 'shell.' 
Some squash may have heavy walls that need 
to be thinner.
Toss all the squash into the pot of boiling water, just long enough to partially start the cooking process. Although the recipe says to boil for about 5 minutes, if the squash are young and tender less time is needed.

Squash shells and pieces, just starting to boil.These are round 
but squash come in many shapes. On the right notice the one I 
dug too far into and took out the bottom. I chopped it and
added it to the stuffing.
Step 6: Drain and cool the squash.

How much is 1 1/2 cups?- about 4 slices. I tend to use a 
third more stuffing ingredients. I like the stuffing best, and 
sometimes make extra to pack around the squash to fill the 
dish completely. 
While the squash is cooling, I cube 5 or 6 slices of bread - or 8 . . . use lots. Do I use white or brown? Yes. I use either or both. What ever I have on hand.

I make a 'boat' of each squash so it has a shell about 1/4 -3/8" thick, depending on the size of the squash, chopping any extra flesh along with the 'slice.' I usually dice the extra into very small cubes.

Set the chopped squash bits aside with the onion and parsley to use in the filling (don't mix them yet as they cook different amounts of time).

Yes, real butter. Yes, heaping tablespoons.
Step 7: melt the 2 Tablespoons of butter and saute the onion just until clear.

I like onions. I use lots of onion. What ever 'feels' good today.

chopped squash sautéing with onion

Step 8: add the chopped squash, and stir for a minute or two until hot and then add the parsley. Stir well, tossing ingredients together thoroughly. Keep stirring.

I use lots of parsley. LOTS.
My 1/4 cup is pressed down and running ov'r
I work quickly over high heat in a cast iron pan.
Just keep stirring.
I like to get the job done.


Next add the soft bread crumbs/cubes to the same pan. Keep stirring.


Step 9: Taste - needs more butter for this much bread! Keep stirring, but keep it fluffy and light. Avoid compacting it - you may need a fork.


Next add a little salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, and last but not by any means least the freshly grated Parmesan - Be generous, and turn off the heat now.

And I needed more pepper. I like pepper. Keep fluffing.

I admit I used bottled Parmesan. I refuse to make a trip to the store for only that! However, don't tell the taste police! I could be apprehended without excuse. I know better. It really does make a difference.

Pack each shell full of stuffing. 

Step 10: Now you are ready to fill the cavities. If you have any stuffing leftover just pack it around the shells. Top with some Parmesan and bake for about 15 minutes. (My oven tends to be 'hot.')

Bake until the squash is completely tender and the stuffing hot.

Finally: Enjoy! This is excellent served with any meat or as a stand alone meal. It is tasty and filling. We have leftovers for tomorrow. We enjoy them hot or cold.