Friday, November 14, 2014

Creamy Italian Stuffed Summer Squash

Ok, so technically summer ended a while ago, but I had this HUGE squash from my mom's garden that needed to be eaten and I also had a craving for something Italian.  Plus it's never a bad thing to reminisce about how warm and cozy the world used to be before winter came along (For those of you who don't know, there are only two seasons in Utah, winter and summer).  The only problem; how does one make something Italian with no garlic, no onion, no tomatoes, no pasta, and no dairy?  Due to my daughter's allergies, pretty much every ingredient that makes Italian food amazing was out.  I also had to make the recipe corn free as if this wasn't going to be a big enough challenge on its own. 
I was determined to overcome this challenge, however, since I really want to have more meals that both taste good to me and agree with my daughter's allergies.  Currently the list of meals that meet both those requirements is quite short.

Despite it's lack of many things that make great Italian food, this stuffed squash doesn't disappoint.  I kept the ingredient list short so as not to overcomplicate things.  I was actually surprised by how much flavor I was able to pack into this dish with just a few ingredients.  It's savory, but not overwhelming, which makes it the perfect dish for someone who is sensitive to strong flavors or who has allergies to garlic and onions.  Unfortunately my daughter didn't care much for it, but I feel like it's progress nonetheless.   I wasn't sure if I could learn to cook without garlic and onions.  To be honest, most of my garlic and onion free recipes still come out tasting not quite right, but I now know that if I put some serious thought into it, I can make good things happen.

Creamy Italian Stuffed Summer Squash
½ cup uncooked millet
1 pound ground pork or chicken
½ Tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 large yellow squash or 2-3 small squash
1 cup mushrooms
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon Tahini
Salt to taste
Vegan Cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a medium saucepan, roast the millet over medium heat until it begins to pop and turn golden brown.  Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Try to resist the urge to lift the lid.  The millet will cook up fluffier if you leave it alone.  You can also add a little oil to the boiling water if you wish but it isn't absolutely necessary.
  3. While the millet is cooking, combine the pork, vinegar, salt, sugar, and Italian seasoning in a frying pan or skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat until the pork is cooked through.  Drain off any excess grease or liquid.
  4. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and hollow it out using a spoon or ice cream scoop.   Chop the squishy squash insides into smaller, bite-sized pieces and set aside.  Place the hollowed out squash shells on a baking sheet and set aside.
  5. Chop the mushrooms and add to the pork mixture along with the squash insides. Continue cooking until the squash and mushrooms are tender.
  6. Add the milk, tahini, and cooked millet to the pork mixture.  Cook a few more minutes until the liquid has thickened slightly.  Add salt to taste.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed out squash, lightly pack the mixture down as you go.  (I had a lot of extra filling so I piled it as high as I could without it falling all over the pan.)
  8. Sprinkle vegan cheese on top of the stuffed squash (if using).  I thought it tasted great both with and without the cheese.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and the tops are slightly browned.  Serve with salad and bread if desired. 

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