Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A month of pantry cooking

Moving day is 1 month away and we want to carry with us as few perishables as possible. No, funny people, I will not be bringing a gallon of oil in a suitcase this time. As of noon today, I will also not be bringing frozen onions, frozen cookie dough, a can of corn, a can of tomato sauce, a jar of piminetos, Panko breadcrumbs, dried Shiitake mushrooms... We are determined to reduce, reuse, and recycle the contents of our freezers, refrigerator, and pantry.

Today's experiment was not captured on digital media, so instead I will entertain you with a photo of my adorable nephew learning how to gamble.


We got some assorted summer squash in the CSA share last week, and I think there's more coming in the next several weeks, so we will be doing all sorts of things with zucchini soon (yes, dear, 'that's what she said').

It turns out the assorted summer squash is a great vehicle for other stuff you want to use up. And the results, though a bit under-salted, were surprisingly good. Although I looked at a lot of zucchini boat and stuffed zucchini recipes to get an idea of cooking times and proportions, what I did has absolutely nothing in common with any of them - I'll credit the one that gave me the idea of boiling the squash first. Her recipe looks very, very yummy and I would love to try it sometime, when I have those ingredients hanging around my pantry. And here we go with what I like to call...

Squash Stuffed with Stuff

serves ~4 (1 small or 1/2 big squash is a pretty good-sized serving)

2-4 summer squash (I had a big zucchini, a small zucchini which might have been a cucumber, and a smallish white squash with whose nomenclature I am unfamiliar)
1 Tbsp of bacon fat (because it was in the fridge - couldn't taste bacon at all in the final dish and if there's a next time we'll use olive or canola oil)
1/2 pound of ground beef
1/2 cup of onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 sprigs of thyme, chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
1 can of corn, drained
1 jar of pimientos
1/2-3/4 c breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
1/2 c ricotta
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.

Boil whole squash for 10-15 minutes. Let cool enough to touch. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, some of the pulp. Chop up the scoopings, which will be added to the 'stuff stuffing'. Transfer your squash boats to a pan.

While boiling your squash, heat bacon fat or oil in a large skillet. Add chopped onion, saute 5 minutes, add pimientos, garlic, and thyme, and saute another 5 minutes. Add ground beef, cook until browned. Drain excess fat. Add tomato sauce and corn and cook a few more minutes. Remove from heat and add ricotta, breadcrumbs, squash scoopings, and the egg. Stir a bit. Season to taste.

Spoon the stuff into the squash boats and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and bake another 10 minutes.

We served ours with Sriracha (a lot for hubby, a little for me) for some added kick.

And we had chocolate chip cookies for dessert, since I froze some homemade cookie dough at some point in the not-so-distant past and tossed those in the conveniently preheated oven. Almost as good as the giant cookies in the suite at Minute Maid Park last night (I guess we're good luck for the Astros, since they managed to beat the Rays - hopefully that means future invites to the Wells Fargo suite!).

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