Last night, I found myself, yet again, trying to come up with ways to use the squash I had been given by my friend Lisa. I was determined to do something fun, and did not come up with this idea until I was in the supermarket earlier in the afternoon. I was in the mood for something light and Summer-y, but, I also had a craving for the taste of lamb. When I was a vegetarian (weren’t we all at some point!) I used to make a dish using the flesh of a squash or zucchini as a stuffing, and combine it with eggs and herbs. I hadn’t thought about that dish until I was eying the juicy ground lamb in my grocery basket.
I figured I could follow the same principles by using the eggs as a binder, only add the lamb, and some onions, and garlic and hopefully it would work as successfully. It was so much fun to make. I got an early start which helped me not to rush the trickiest part; scraping the flesh from the squash.
I was a little apprehensive as I though everyone might think their plate looked meager, but, I assured them they would be satisfied. These sturdy boats were packed with everything that is usually more visible on their plate; meat, vegetables and greens. All 12 squash boats were devoured, and everyone declared they couldn’t have possibly eaten another bite (save for dessert of course!).
I again recommend that you give these a try. They would also be a fabulous appetizer, serving 1 single boat on 1 single lettuce leaf. They could easily be made ahead of time, and reheated in the oven.
You will need: 6 medium yellow squash or zucchini, halved lengthways, 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 lb ground lamb,( I used a little over a lb), 1 small sweet onion, small dice, 1 big garlic clove, finely chopped, leaves from 5 thyme sprigs, 2 tsp curry powder (I used vindaloo), 2 eggs, beaten, 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated, 5 or 6 tbs panko bread crumbs (these are japanese dried bread flakes and can be found in most supermarkets), OR regular breadcrumbs dried out in the oven, coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 head of lettuce, washed, dried, and leaves separated.
Preheat oven 375*
1 – Take the halved squash, and, using a teaspoon scrape out the flesh. Start with the middle where the seeds are, and gently, but firmly work your way out to the sides in a scraping motion. Leave enough of a wall of flesh to maintain a sturdy structure. Transfer flesh to a colander placed over a bowl to let the juices drain.
2 – Fill a 4 qt pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. When it is boiling, add a tsp of salt and add the squash shells. Cover and time for 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to an oiled baking sheet, skin-side down.
3 – Put saute pan on medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic and thyme leaves and cook for 10 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the lamb and break up and disperse with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Squeeze the remaining water out of squash flesh with hands and add to the lamb along with 1 tsp of coarse salt and the curry powder. Cook for another 4 minutes. Transfer to a dinner plate to cool a little.
4 – Crack 2 eggs into a big bowl and beat with a fork. Add the cooled lamb and cheese and mix well.
5 – Spoon the lamb mixture into each squash boat until all the meat is gone. Top with a sprinkle of Panko crumbs, or breadcrumbs. Place in oven for 25 minutes, or until tops start to turn a nice golden brown.
Serve 2 or 3 boats to each person on a bed of seasonal lettuces.