Lamb-Stuffed Summer Squash
A burst of summer in every bite, be it in a boat or a cup!
First course or main course, lunch or dinner, hot or cold, this summer squash dish is pure sunshine. Flavored with fresh mint, oregano, and sundried tomatoes, ground lamb is the perfect filling for the sweet and juicy green and yellow summer squash. A little toasted pignoli and crumbled feta never hurts either. Stuffed as boats or cups - cut lengthwise or crosswise respectively - the summer squash is inherently portioned, easy to serve, and fun to plate!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; small spoon; dry measuring cup; measuring spoons; large sauté pan; wooden spoon; fork; rimmed sheet pan; aluminum foil
4-6 summer squash
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes (in oil)
2 tablespoons mint chiffonade (plus mint sprigs for garnish)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
3 tablespoons toasted pignoli nuts
¼ cup crumbled feta
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle generously with kosher salt, and set aside.
2. Prepare the summer squash. If small, make boats by slicing the squash in half lengthwise. If large, make cups by slicing the squash crosswise in 2-inch pieces. Using a small spoon, scrape out the seeds and some of the flesh to form boats or cups, being careful not to break the bottom flesh.
ILOC tip: if you want to stretch the lamb filling, you can chop up the scooped out squash flesh and add it to the garlic-onion mixture to sauté.
3. Place the squash vessels scooped side-down on the prepared sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan, then add the garlic and diced onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions have softened.
5. Add the ground lamb, breaking it up with a fork or wooden spoon as it cooks. Sauté, stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes, until the lamb is no longer pink. Drain the excess, water lamb fat from the pan. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the sundried tomatoes, mint, tomato paste, and oregano. Continue cooking, stirring, for 1-2 more minutes.
ILOC tip: do not skip the step where you remove the excess lamb fat, which is incredibly watery. removing this excess liquid will make for a much better, balanced end product.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pignoli nuts.
7. Remove the squash from the oven and turn over, scooped side-up. Sprinkle the vessels with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and half the crumbled goat cheese. Pack with lamb filling and sprinkle with the remaining feta. Return the sheet pan to the oven and bake the stuffed squash for another 5-7 minutes.
8. Serve the squash warm or room temperature with fresh mint sprigs.
Makes 2-4 servings, depending on course.