Tag Archives: summer squash

Squash and Chard Casserole

Do you remember squash casserole? If you’re from the South, it’s likely you’ve had it before (or quite often) – a cheesy, buttery, creamy casserole filled with squash that has been cooked within an inch of its life, topped with buttery crumbs. I didn’t grow up eating such a casserole (my parents aren’t from the South), but I definitely enjoyed it a time or two, typically in local diners that also served other Southern favorites, such as fried okra, chicken-fried steak, collard greens (with lots of ham or bacon), grits, and lots of biscuits and gravy. While tasty, it’s definitely not something that is friendly on the waistline or to those of us with gluten and dairy issues.

I’d forgotten about squash casserole, truth be told, until Sunday evening, when I was staring down some fresh yellow squash I’d picked up at the farmer’s market. I had unimaginative plans for it as a side dish for roasted chicken, figuring I’d saute it just until tender, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and call it good. But then, out of nowhere, squash casserole popped into my head. Also faced with an overabundance of swiss chard from my garden, the wheels started turning. I could make a squash casserole that would be tasty, but not a guilty pleasure. Something that could still be considered a vegetable. It could be possible to make something gluten-free, casein-free, and even low FODMAP-friendly.

And so this dish was born. It was still creamy from the Daiya cheese I used to top it, but not overly so. The vegetables were tender, but not overcooked. There was still a buttery flavor from the “crumb” topping. The chipotle chile powder added a lovely boost of flavor, so you really felt like you had a treat without a bunch of heaviness. I even enjoyed some leftovers for breakfast. As squash season hasn’t even really begun yet, I’m sure this won’t be the last time this dish graces our dinner table.

Squash and Chard Casserole (Gluten-Free, Casein-Free)

1 bunch swiss chard

2 T olive oil

3 c sliced yellow squash

½ t chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c Daiya cheddar cheese (or other vegan cheese alternative)

1 T ghee or olive oil (if you can’t tolerate ghee or prefer to make this vegan)

¼ c almond flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish (mine was an oval one about 9″X6″) and set aside.

Cut the swiss chard leaves from the stalks. Thinly slice the stalks and set aside, and chop the leaves.

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Saute yellow squash and the swiss chard stalks for about 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Add swiss chard leaves and sauté until wilted, another 2-3 minutes. Season with chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper to taste. Using a paper towel, squeeze the excess juice from the vegetables (otherwise, you’ll end up with a wetter casserole than you desire.) Transfer the vegetables to the casserole dish. Top with Daiya cheese.

Melt the ghee in a small microwaveable bowl for 30-45 seconds. Combine ghee and almond flour along with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Blend together with a spoon until crumbly. Spread over the Daiya evenly.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Lamb Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash or Zucchini

 

I love stuffed vegetables. I think it’s because of the whole meal-in-one-package appeal. Or maybe it’s like a surprise is hiding inside an already delicious vegetable. Or maybe the real truth is that the flavors meld and do wonderful things in the oven, and the results are greater than the sum of their parts. Whatever the reason, I felt that it was worth turning the oven on in the middle of July so I could enjoy the lovely mix of fresh flavors in this dish.

We’ve been eating a lot of lamb again lately. In May, we purchased another whole, organically raised, grass-fed lamb from Good Earth Organic Farm. This has to be the best lamb my husband and I have ever tasted. I’m sorry to say that I have not really shared a lot of recipes that I’ve made with it. That’s not on purpose, I promise. There are just days when the camera doesn’t seem to make its way to a plate of food before the food is eaten at our house – especially when lamb chops are involved. And many times, I neglect to write down the recipe as I go. Before the chops are gone, though, I will promise you that I will share my no-fail way to make perfect lamb chops. It’s simple, easy, and delicious.

Anyway, today, we’re not talking about lamb chops. We’re talking about the ground lamb I used for the eight-ball zucchini found at the farmer’s market. I love to embrace the flavor of lamb by adding fresh, bright flavors – herbs work well here. I am growing lemon thyme in my garden this year, and it pairs beautifully with lamb. If you don’t have lemon thyme, regular thyme or rosemary also work well. I went with my instinct on the rest of the seasonings, feeling that a bit of Mediterranean flair would work in my favor. I incorporated za’atar (a spice blend of sumac and sesame seeds) and a touch of cinnamon. The result was bursting with flavor, and without the addition of cheese (a popular ingredient in many stuffed vegetables), it was light – perfect for a summer meal.

If you can’t find eight-ball squash, don’t despair. Making boats out of zucchini would work well, or you could also use bell peppers, or even tomatoes. When winter squashes start appearing in the coming months, I can imagine this stuffing in an acorn squash would also be amazing (that’s when fresh rosemary would really play well). Yum. I’m hungry again just talking about this!

Lamb-Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash

4 eight-ball squash

1 T olive oil

¼ c red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, chopped

½ t lemon thyme leaves

6 oz ground lamb

1/2 t za’atar

½ t ground cumin

1/8 t cinnamon

Pinch crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 c cooked brown rice

½ t lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

1 T parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tops off of the squash and with a paring knife and/or a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the squash, leaving about ½ inch of flesh in tact. Chop the insides and set aside. Place the squash on a microwave safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Remove and place squash in a baking pan (I used an 8X8 inch glass baking dish). Season the insides with salt. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the tomato and chopped squash “insides” and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until tomatoes start to break down. Remove and set aside. Season the ground lamb with za’atar, ground cumin, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Wipe the skillet clean and add ground lamb. (if your lamb is really lean, you might need to add additional oil to the pan first.) Saute until meat is no longer pink. Add the sautéed vegetables and the rice to the pan and stir. Add lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Turn off the heat and stir in parsley.

Spoon the filling into the squash. Top with the squash “lids”, if desired. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Serves 4.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Lamb, Main Dishes, Rice, Vegetables