No recipe for a stuffed vegetable can be exact, as none of the vegetables are consistent in size time after time. It is better to have extra stuffing than not enough, and the extra can be refrigerated or frozen for another time, or baked in a ramekin for a cook’s treat. This recipe also will work for those canoe-size, end-of-season zucchini; cook them longer. — Nathalie Dupree
Stuffed Squash and Zucchini Boats
6 small zucchini or yellow squash
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup grated cheese, preferably Gruyere and fresh Parmesan
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano or basil (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Halve the squash and scoop out the pulp, leaving the inside walls of the vegetable intact to form boats. Set aside; chop any broken ones and add to the pulp as necessary to fill the other boats. Cook the “boats” in the microwave until soft, just a few minutes; or add to a pot of boiling water and cook until soft, approximately 10 minutes, and drain.
Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onion and chopped squash, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Cool slightly and add the cheese. Taste for seasoning, add the herbs, and season with salt and pepper.
Move the boats to a rimmed baking sheet and fill with the mixture. Top the boats with breadcrumbs and dot with remaining butter. Bake 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve hot. May be refrigerated or frozen, wrapped well. Defrost and reheat until heated through, approximately 15 minutes.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 13 cookbooks, most recently the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached at Nathaliedupree.com.