How’s your summer going?
Some writing projects, a bit of catering, and teaching teen cooking camp this month have kept my days very full; and like those lumbering yellow squash in the picture below, summer is fast getting away from me. I’ve been remiss at blogging.
But, I’m going to make it up to you today with not one, but two recipes: one is wonderfully healthful, the other a bit guilt-laden; both are gluten-free vegetarian dishes that revel in the glory of summer.
We’ll start with healthy: these herbed quinoa stuffed tomatoes are downright delicious. A variation on the Provencal style baked tomato that is topped with herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs, I created these to suit a friend who needed a gluten-free menu for her guests.
You’ll want to select ripe juicy tomatoes for stuffing. These are Cherokee Purples–one of my favorites. But other heirlooms would be just as terrific: Bradleys, Brandywines, Mortgage Lifters…
Part of the heirloom is diced and cooked into the quinoa, further flavored with bits of onion and sweet basil.
Ah, the wonders of quinoa. Unusual in the plant kingdom, it possesses a balanced set of amino acids, making it a complete protein. ( A marvelous source, too, for iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and dietary fiber.)
Once stuffed, this versatile seed/grain takes on the sweetness and juices of our beloved tomatoes, and bakes up toasty and nutlike under a shower of parmesan cheese.
And now, for the guilt-laden…
I have a couple of urban gardens that I’m tending. One is tee-niny: my front yard patch of herbs, swiss chard, and tomatoes. The other, larger garden is located in the backyard of my brother’s office, where we are growing haricots verts, yellow wax beans, a variety of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, along with prodigious squashes: zucchini, butternut, and yellow crookneck. (I’ll post some pics soon.)
This is the time of year when people complain about zucchini overrun. In our garden, it’s been yellow squash.
This recipe is the right one for using some of those colossal squashes that somehow escaped your notice and went from barely emerging on the vine to baseball bats. Well, not quite that big, but you know how it goes.
An old school recipe, it’s one that I came across in 1984 when I was working for a large catering firm. It had been supplied by a client, and boasted a fancy-pants name: “Posh Squash Casserole.” Ingredients include eggs, parmesan cheese, and (shudder) Hellman’s mayo; I confess that I was leery of the recipe.
But, of all the squash casserole recipes I have ever made, this one is, without question, the best.
It’s great for cooking up a squash bounty. You can feed a crowd with thick bubbly casseroles, or “posh it up” with petite souffle scallops or ramekins. The recipe multiplies easily without compromising the outcome. We would extend the recipe to make it for parties over 200!
Throughout the years, it’s remained tried and true. Rich for sure. Despite that, it has a lightness, a compelling souffle-like quality.
Even people who claim to hate squash and casseroles love this one. And love it in all its forms.
From time to time, for variety’s sake, I’ve tweaked the recipe by using both yellow and zucchini squashes, or roasting the squashes and onions, or adding other veggies, like sweet red bell pepper, even steamed broccoli.
It’s okay to indulge in a little guilt, especially when it’s balanced by a lot of health. Here are some of summer’s best. Enjoy ’em soon, before they get away from you.
HERBED QUINOA STUFFED HEIRLOOM TOMATOES
4 medium sized ripe Heirloom Tomatoes (cherokee purple)
1 small Onion, diced
6-8 Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, quartered (optional)
2 T. Olive Oil
1/2 cup Quinoa
3 T. fresh Basil, chiffonade
1/4 c. grated Parmesan Cheese
Core tomatoes with a wide slice around the top, and deep enough to remove some of the inside. Dice the meaty tomato flesh from the coring, and place into a bowl with quartered sungold tomatoes.
In a medium saucepan, warm olive oil. Saute onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in quinoa and let it get gently toasted in the saute–about 2 minutes or so. Stir in diced tomatoes and juices and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until quinoa is tender, fluffy, but nutlike. Stir in basil chiffonade afterwards.
Rub casserole or oval ceramic dish with olive oil. Stuff cored tomatoes with quinoa mixture. Dust heavily with grated parmesan and bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
SQUASH SOUFFLE CASSEROLE “POSH SQUASH”
2 lbs. Summer Squash, sliced into medium sized pieces
1 Onion, diced
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Hellman’s Mayo
1/2 t. Sea Salt
1/4 t. ground Black Pepper
1/4 t. granulated Garlic
1/4 t. Paprika
Boil squash until tender. Drain and cool. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, mayo, parmesan, and seasonings. Fold in diced onion, then fold in cooled squash.
Place mixture into individual ramekins, or a casserole dish. Bake in 350 degree for 20 minutes (if in ramekins) to 30 minutes (if in casserole dish) until puffed and golden.