The garden has FINALLY taken off. This year I thought I would grow everything from seed but with a late start and the SUPER hot weather it was a disaster. I love the garden, the fresh dirt on my bare feet (even though it drives the pilot crazy when I track it inside on our light colored carpet). As a little girl my grandpa and I always had a garden together and every time I am out there pulling weeds I think of all the wonderful stories he used to tell me while we worked.
As usual, despite my best efforts, one of the Zucchini squash got away from us! I am sure it must be the pilots fault, I think he hides them from me so that I have no other choice but to make him stuffed squash. My favorite thing to do with an extra large squash is to stuff them with a venison meatloaf stuffing. It can be made with both zucchini or yellow squash depending on which one you prefer. Traditionally I do not make them unless I have large squash because it makes a great stuffing to squash ratio. One of my favorite parts about this recipe is the simplicity of it, yet savory flavor it offers.
Here’s how its done!
Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees.
Squash, 1 Chub pack of Ground Venison (you can substitute ground beef or turkey if you would prefer), 1 large bell pepper (the bells from my garden are small so I use 2 or 3), a small onion, 4-6 mushrooms, 2-3 small potatoes (I use red potatoes but pealed Irish potatoes work as well), 2 cups of bread crumbs, 1 egg, salt, pepper, 1 medium garlic clove, 1 can of tomato paste and 1 can of tomato sauce.
Wash the squash and cut it in half long ways. Use a spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) to empty out the seeds, and make room for the stuffing. Although they are a little messy, the gooey seed makes for a great food fight, it sticks nicely. I have learned, however, that I usually get stuck cleaning it up and that tends to take the fun out it.
Remove the large seeds first and discard them. After the seeds are removed hollow out both ends and put what’s left over in a bowl to use for the stuffing. Make sure to leave some of the meat of the squash in the skin (see the picture).
In a saute pan,brown the ground meat and season it with a little salt and pepper. When the meat is browned, drain the fat and set it aside. Next, you will saute the onions, potatoes and bell peppers in a little bit of olive oil or butter. When the onions are almost clear add chopped mushrooms and the squash you scooped out and saute the vegetables together. I would say about 3-4 minutes to tenderize the mushrooms and squash mixture.
Add the vegetables to the meat in a bowl and combine the first cup of bread crumbs, an egg, and half the can of tomato sauce and the tomato paste. The second cup of bread crumbs will only be added if needed to make it thick enough to hold together in the squash.
Mix it all together. If it is too thick, you may have to add a little more tomato sauce to hold it together, if its too thin add some of the bread crumbs. I like it to be fluid, yet not runny.
Stuff the mixture in the squash halves. Although I know it is MUCH more sanitary to use a spoon, I like to mix and stuff with my hands; I feel like a do a much better job of getting it really mixed up. MAKE SURE TO WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY AFTER! I recommend that you use dish washing soap, it does a much better job of getting the sticky raw egg off your hands. Add 1/4 cup of water to the can of tomato sauce, then pour it over the top of the squash in the pan.
Cover with tinfoil and bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then uncover it and bake it for another 30-40 minutes until the squash begins to wrinkle a little. Slice and serve.
The Pilot loves this recipe. We much prefer venison to hamburger bought in the store, it is a whole lot leaner and the more we eat the more often we get to go out to the country to get more. Almost all of this comes from our garden and there are at least a few zucchini squash that I miss when I am picking the garden. This recipe makes perfect use of those larger squash that do not work as well in other recipes. Enjoy! A large squash easily feeds 4 and the pilot gives this meal an 8.5. I like to serve it with a fresh fruit salad and garlic bread.