Stuffed Eight Ball Squash
Game on! Of all the shapes of summer squash, I love the eight ball for its playful form. Although it won’t tell your fortune when shaken, these summer squashes make for excellent stuffable vessels. This recipe is inspired by the flavors of Turkey. In March, Francois and I spent a week in Istanbul and were lucky enough to dine at Çiya Sofrasi, a famously-regarded Turkish restaurant featured on Chef’s Table. One of the dishes we tasted was stuffed eggplant and peppers, which were absolutely delicious.
Typically, stuffed vegetables contain meat, but today’s recipe calls for rice, leeks, and walnuts as wonderful plant-based alternatives. Musas Dağdeviren, Çiya Sofrasi’s owner and chef, calls stuffed and wrapped dishes “culinary showstoppers”. They are a little extra work, but make for an oh-so-beautiful entré — these are game-changers!
Preheat the oven to 450˚
Prepare the squash – Slice off the tops of the eight ball squash and discard. Hollow out the squash leaving ¼” thick shell.
Make the tomato sauce – Mix the peeled tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Prepare the filling – In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and leek and sauté until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the walnuts and garbanzo beans, stirring to combine. Add the dried mint, chopped parsley, chopped dill, and rice, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Fill the shells with the stuffing. Place in a baking dish as close together as possible. Spoon the fresh tomato sauce around the stuffed squash. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15 additional minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve as part of a menu that could include hummus, baba ganoush, fresh pita bread, and fresh dill, cucumber and tomato salad.
* Note – If you cannot find eight ball squash, try zucchini or yellow summer squash.
serves 4 - 6
FRESH TOMATO SAUCE
- 2 cups peeled chopped tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 eight ball squash*, about 3″ in diameter
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup garbanzo beans, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp dried mint
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped dill
- ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups cooked jasmine rice