Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday: Stuffed Round Zuchini

I'm a sucker for cute packaging. I judge a book by its cover, a store by its window display and a vegetable by its shape. So when I saw round zucchini in the market on Saturday, I had to have some, especially since the last time I came across them was in Bologna. In my mind, a round zucchini is a zucchini made for stuffing. And so when I spied some early sweet corn, inspiration struck: I would make a riff on the corn gratin featured in the New York Times a few weeks ago and use it to fill the squash. So despite the semi-heat (hey - it hit 80 yesterday), I cranked the oven to 375 while merrily sauteing veggies on the stove top. Since each squash only held about 4 tablespoons of gratin mixture, I baked the leftovers in a small dish.

Although I wished I used more cheese in the mixture, the end result was tasty: an eggy custard studded with corn and red pepper. But perhaps because of the cheese I used (or maybe the extra egg white, or the fact I used 1% milk), the custard did have a bit of a gray tinge.

However, the gray was barely noticeable in the gratin I baked in the squash. In fact, it looked very impressive, and would make a great brunch dish (but only for those who will appreciate the cute factor!).

Green and Yellow Squash Stuffed with Corn Custard

Although you can cook the squash in a baking dish or cookie sheet, I was paranoid about them collapsing and used large ramekins. Remember to season the inside of the squash before filling.
1 t. olive oil, plus extra for rubbing on squash
1 Cippolini onion, diced
1/2 Red pepper, chopped
1 Clove of garlic, roughly chopped
2 Ears of corn, de-kerneled
1/4 c. Milk
1 Egg
1 Egg white
1/4 c. Grated or shredded cheese (I used a combination of Romano and Swiss, because that's what I had)
Spices (the original recipe called for cumin seed, I used some ground cumin and chili powder)
Prepare the squash for stuffing by slicing off the top third, reserving the stem end. Using a pairing knife, carefully hollow out a first chunk of squash, taking care not to puncture the sides of the vegetable. Then, with a teaspoon, continue scooping out the squash flesh until all sides are smooth and even; chop the flesh and set aside.
Rub the interior and exterior of the squash cups with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the reserved stem ends with olive oil and set on a piece of foil.
Prepare the vegetable filling by sauteing the onion, garlic and red pepper in olive oil until soft. Add the chopped squash flesh to the pan; season with salt, pepper and any additional spices and pepper; and saute until most of the water from the squash has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the kernels from one of the ears of corn.
Prepare the custard base by combining the remaining corn kernels, the milk and egg and blitzing in a traditional or immersion blender until smooth.
Add the sauteed vegetables and cheese to the custard base along with extra salt and pepper. Spoon approximately 4 tablespoons of the filling into each squash cup; bake the remaining filling in an oiled dish.
Put the filled squash cups, stem ends and extra gratin in a 375 degree oven. Check the stem ends after approximately 20 minutes and the extra gratin after about 35 minutes. The stuffed squash will take the longest to cook, but should only require a total of 40 minutes.

No comments: