A good friend and former neighbor of ours came to visit us last month. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his lovely wife and like true mid-westerners, they have a beautiful and fruitful garden. Much to any food blogging hostess’s delight, they brought an armful of homegrown produce carefully tucked into their suitcases to share. It was one of the best gifts we’ve received! Lest you think I’m talking about a few cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, think again. There were several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, chives, mint, basil, zucchini and the wonder of them all– 5 globe squashes.
What is a globe squash? It’s similar to other summer squashes, but they are cute and round. The coloring and striping on the globe squash reminds be of a watermelon. The flesh has a sweet flavor and firm texture (great for stuffing!). When you cut it open it looks like other summer squash, and you cook it in a similar way.
Of course, in order to honor our gifts and guests, I quickly set out to incorporate the goodies into some new creations. While all of the produce looked vibrant, felt plush, and filled our kitchen with the aroma of fresh herbs, the globe squashes were the most intriguing to me. They were of varying sizes, so cute and perfectly round that it is hard to resist the temptation to stuff them with something. I didn’t want to over power the squash with something too heavy, so I decided to go with ground chicken rather than the more traditional ground beef or ground lamb. I ground my own chicken breasts and seasoned the stuffing with red pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin and coriander to give it a middle-eastern flair and topped my cuties with a little tomato sauce. I had quite a bit of extra stuffing so at the last minute I stuffed a couple of red peppers too, but the squashes were the centerpiece of this creation! If you can’t find globe squashes, traditional yellow summer squash, zucchini, and bell peppers will all work with this.
STUFFED GLOBE SQUASH
3-5 small – medium globe squashes (I used two small and one medium, but as mentioned above, I had leftover stuffing)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1 pound)
1 small red onion, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ -1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to your taste depending on how much heat you want)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup cooked rice (about ½ cup rice uncooked, just follow the directions on the package)
1 15 oz. can of plain tomato sauce
Pre-heat oven to 425F. Slice off the tops of the globe squashes cut/scoop out the center. Try to do this carefully, so you can chop the flesh into about ½ inch chunks to incorporate into your filling. Keep the chunks in a small bowl and set aside. Place the hollowed out squashes in a baking dish.
Place the chicken, onion, cumin, turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3-5 times to grind the chicken into small chunks. Alternatively, if you are buying your meat already ground, just combine the ingredients in a large bowl.
In a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the red peppers and sauté the peppers for 2-3 minutes. Add the squash pieces, rice, and ground chicken and cook, stirring to break the chicken up and to ensure that the ingredients are well-mixed and the chicken is pretty much cooked through–about 6-7 minutes on medium high heat. OPTIONAL: See my note below, you can also mix in some tomato sauce after this step.
Time to stuff! Scoop out the chicken and rice stuffing and fill the globe squashes. Your chicken is already cooked so feel free to really pack in the stuffing, you don’t have to worry about a raw center!
Place the stuffed squashes in a baking dish and pour over the can of tomato sauce. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the squashes are fork tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve!
NOTE: I definitely could have made my own sauce here and if you’d like to, I’d recommend a basic sauce like my easy Marinara. I made this dinner on a weeknight, so it was easiest for me to just pour over a can of ready-made tomato sauce. I didn’t add any spices or spruce it up, I used the sauce to add a flavor, keep the top of the squash moist, and as a liquid in the baking dish rather than using water or broth. If I did this again, I’d probably mix about half a can of the sauce into the stuffing before I stuffed the squash and reserved the other half of the can for the pour over.