I created this hearty vegetarian entree for my meat-and-potatoes man using cute round "eight-ball" squash I discovered at the farmers' market. He loved it, and didn't miss the meat at all -- of course it didn't hurt that I spiced up the stuffing with a little New Mexican red chili powder (he's a native of New Mexico and a self-professed chili addict). A vibrant roasted red pepper sauce acts as a great complement to the savory squash. Though I used round squash here, any variety of summer squash will do, as long as it's large enough to hollow out and stuff. And if you're not in a pepper-roasting mood, jarred peppers (pre-roasted and skinned) will make a great sauce, too. —smartpalatenyc
Stuffed Summer Squash
medium zucchini or yellow squash (I used round "eight ball" variety)
extra virgin olive oil
medium red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
cooked brown rice
red chili powder (preferably New Mexican)
chopped fresh cilantro, plus 2 Tbsp for garnish
Trim ends from squash and halve lengthwise. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out seeds from the halved squash. Place halves cut side up in a baking dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes, and remove from oven.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add red onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the black beans, brown rice, smoked paprika, and chili powder, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, stir in 1/4 cup of cilantro, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Fill zucchini halves with the bean and rice mixture, mounding slightly, and top each with 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and scallions, and serve with roasted red pepper sauce.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Roast peppers on the stovetop over a medium-high flame (or under a broiler), turning occasionally with tongs, until the skin is blackened on all sides. Place peppers in a bowl, cover tightly, and let sit for about 15 minutes. Remove skin, stem, and seeds.
Puree flesh of roasted peppers with olive oil in a blender on high speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with sea salt.