Last Sunday I spent a lot of time at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s market looking for avocado squash. It is supposed to have a rich buttery taste when eaten raw.
Unfortunately, I did not find any. But I did stumble across 8 ball squash. They are round, 3-4 inches, and shiny. The perfect size for a single serving and their shape makes them a good vehicle for stuffing. I tasted them raw, and the flesh is tender and somewhat sweet. They would do well in a raw salad application. I decided to purchase a few and stuffed them with a mixture of rice/ground pork/veggies. I was happy with the results. Not only were they delicious, but they retained their shape and were pretty on a plate over some of the filling.
5 eight ball squash
4 ounces ground pork (or ground turkey, chicken, or beef)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoons red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon fennel
1 small onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup basil, chopped
3 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut the tops off each squash. With a melon baller or a small spoon, remove the flesh from the inside, making sure to leave a wall about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Chop the flesh that you removed and set aside. Place each squash and the tops on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. In a large skillet, add the ground pork, garlic, chili flakes and fennel. You may want to add a little bit of olive oil depending on what type of ground meat you are using. Cook until brown, making sure to break it up while it cooks. Remove from the pan, and set aside. To the same pan, add the chopped squash, onion, red bell pepper, and celery. Season with salt, pepper, and extra chili flakes if you like. Cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Turn heat off.
4. Add the pork, brown rice, parsley, basil, and pine nuts to the skillet.
5. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese on the bottom of each squash. Fill with rice/pork mixture. Sprinkle the top with more Parmesan cheese. Make sure that no filling sticks to the sides of the squash, otherwise this will burn in the oven. At this point you can refrigerate them until ready to serve.
6. Place the filled squash in the oven at 400° for 10-15 minutes, until heated through. Warm the tops in the oven for only 5 minutes. Place the tops on each of the filled squash and serve with extra rice/pork stuffing or a salad.