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Small Stuffed Squash

Piccoli Zucchini Ripieni

SERVES 6

My husband, Guy, has always liked to grow vegetables and flowers. Every year in early January, colorful seed catalogues from all over the fifty states are strewn across the kitchen table and the delicate process of planning the garden begins.

We always lean toward a mostly Italian-style garden, some of the seeds even coming from Italy. One year we planted a non-Italian variety of squash called Jersey Golden. They are like little golden pumpkins and are perfect for stuffing. Small zucchini can also be used in this recipe.

Ingredients

6 small Jersey Golden squash (about the size of small oranges) or 2 zucchini, about 10 inches long

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup toasted fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a baking dish.

If using the Jersey Golden squash, cut off the tops; if using zucchini, cut them into 3-inch lengths. Gently scoop out the insides of each squash, making sure to leave a shell about ¼ inch thick; reserve 1 1/2cups of the pulp. If using zucchini, scoop out and discard the seeds; then scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/4-inch thick walls. Reserve 1 1/2cups of the zucchini pulp. Set aside the hollowed-out squash.

In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the bread crumbs and stir to coat well. Remove the crumbs to a bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter to the skillet and cook the reserved squash pulp until soft but not mushy. Stir in the thyme and salt and pepper.

Fill the squash with the cooked squash pulp, packing it in tightly. Place the filled squash in the baking dish. Cover and bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the squash and bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Note: This dish is great served alongside grilled chicken, lamb, or pork.

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