Summer squash is available all year round which sounds a bit confusing. The name refers to a squash harvested when it’s not fully mature. The skin is soft and thin while the flesh is a softer texture. Some of the most popular and familiar varieties are: zucchini, pattypan squash, cousa squash, crookneck squash. Summer squash is perfect roasted, grilled, sautéed, or stuffed. This recipe is inspired by my mother in-law’s mom, Angelina Bocarisa, but I only knew of her as mama nini which was what all her grandchildren called her. My husband said mama nini was always smiling, never a harsh word spoken, and of course, her food (which according to Mr. S) was always good.
I spoke to Aida (my mother in-law) via skype yesterday and showed her the summer squash I just bought. I asked her how mama nini made her stuffed zucchini. She said she would hollow out the zucchini and stuff it with a mixture of ground meat, bread crumbs, an egg and herbs. She would then take it to the local baker. The Bocarisa family lived in Gibraltar and no one in those days (1920’s, 30’s, 40’s) had an oven in their kitchen. Anything that needed baking was brought to the baker. You would drop off whatever it was that needed baking, grab a receipt and come back when indicated. I can just imagine all the glorious aromas wafting through the neighborhood as each person brought home their cooked food.
- 3 to 4 cousa squash or small zucchini
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 to 2 Italian sausage, squeeze meat out of casing
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 can whole Italian plum tomatoes
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 350f (180c).
- Cut one end off and use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh of the squash. If you don’t have a melon baller, use a teaspoon to gently remove the flesh. In a small bowl mix the remaining ingredients. To make it easier to stuff, shape some of the meat into a long cylinder about the length of the squash, and feed it into the hollowed out area. Gently push with your fingers so that the meat fills up the space.
- Grab an oven-proof dish and pour a bit of the juice from the canned tomatoes – just enough to cover. Place stuffed squash on top of juice. Take 1 or 2 plum tomatoes and tear apart over the top of the summer squash.
- Cover and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven and uncover. Add a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.
Cover and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven and uncover. Add a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you have any sausage meat leftover, break into chunks and pan fry in olive oil until cooked. Then add melon ball scoops of the squash with a sprinkle of chili flakes. Cook until slightly soft and tear apart 4 or 5 plum tomatoes over the mixture, stir. Season and allow to simmer 10 to 15 minutes or when the sauce thickens a bit. Serve this with a slice or two of country bread to mop up the juices. Enjoy!