Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stuffed Eight Ball Squash with Ratatouille

I actually made ratatouille this morning before I left for work. Yes, I am insane, but it was a cool 70 degrees, I was already chopping vegetables for my brown bag salad, and had a bunch of stuff lingering in the crisper, including $6 worth of Japanese eggplant I got at the farmers market last weekend. So I cranked the oven to 400, combined chopped squash, onion, eggplant and pepper with olive oil, canned diced tomatoes, salt and pepper and let it cook for an hour or so (until I had to pack it into the fridge and head out the door). Hard? No. Hot? Yes. I admit I was a little flushed as I ran down to catch my train. But if you have a gas grill, there is an easier way to enjoy ratatouille this summer. If you turn the burners to medium high and leave the lid down, most grills will heat to 400+ degrees (making it an ideal outdoor oven). So the next time you're preheating the grill for steaks, chicken or burgers, try cooking stuffed eight ball squash as a veggie side dish. Your indoor oven will be glad for the reprieve.
Eight Ball Squash Stuffed with Cheaters Ratatouille
I supposed you could make ratatouille and then stuff the squash, but if you're pressed for time, you can make this "cheaters" version.
1 T. Olive oil, plus extra for brushing squash
2 Shallots, diced
1 Quarter of a fennel bulb, chopped
4 Eight ball squash
1 C. Eggplant caponata (Trader Joe's makes a nice version)
1-2 Slices of whole wheat bread, crumbed
Grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)
Ground black pepper
Start gas grill, setting burners to medium high.
In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add shallots and cook until translucent.
In the meantime, slice off the top third of each squash at the stem end, wrap the tops loosely in non-stick foil.
Using a paring knife, start to hollow out each squash by running the knife along the edge (leaving about a quarter inch of flesh) and cut out a cone-shaped section; hollow out the remainder of the squash with a measuring spoon or melon baller.
Roughly chop the scooped out flesh and add to skillet along with fennel; cook until most of the water has evaporated.
Remove the skillet from the heat; add the eggplant caponata and bread crumbles.
Brush each hollowed out squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; fill to top with eggplant mixture, wrap in non-stick foil.
Place the two foil packets in grill pan or directly on grates; lower the lid and cook for 20-30 minutes or until squash is soft.
Garnish with the cooked squash tops for show, as well as cheese if desired.

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