Stuffed Summer Squash
My favorite memories are always captured in the spur of the moment. Whether in a childhood game of “hey, try and block this racquetball with my mom’s couch pillow” or improvised trips to faraway lands (see Misadventure in Peru), the times in which worrisome planning subsides to unadulterated enjoyment are second to none and are moments that I will always cherish.
This past Easter-weekend was filled with such pleasureful moments; the raw heat of the springtime sun illuminating the bright purples, whites, and greens of newly blossomed trees on our drive through the Alabama countryside; the gratifying moments of a well-received and heart-felt meal for family; a spontaneous trip to a wonderful antique store in an otherwise unassuming small town on the outskirts of Birmingham.
Why we decided to turn the car around and patronize the small store I’ll never know. Perhaps it was out of sheer curiosity or the need to break the persistent boredom that encompasses a six hour trip that should take two hours at most. Whatever the case, I sure am glad that we stopped by to enjoy what the little beige store had to offer.
Inside, we met a nice man, who later introduced himself as Felix, along with a vast array of vintage southern folk art that would make anyone’s grandparents proud. If we weren’t broke from the recent trip to Whole Foods it would have been nearly impossible to resist the urge to buy something. Sure, explaining how I spent the money reserved for Easter dinner would have been difficult to explain—but time would pass and memories would fade and I’d still be the proud owner of my so-very-awesome vintage southern sign. But I digress…
While we were there, the subject of food came up, as it inevitably does with me around, and Felix, a former cook and café owner himself, shared a recipe he thought that I might like– summer squash stuffed with cream cheese and spinach and topped with parmesan. It’s old-school and southern just the way I like it, and as he described it, “it looks like you did a whole lot and you really didn’t.” Perfect.
I decided to use his suggestion as inspiration to create my own version which combines his uniquely southern dish with the Italian flavors that I love and know so well.
Stuffed Summer Squash Recipe (serves two):
Preheat oven to 350ºF
For the filling-
- 2 medium yellow squash, halved and seeds removed
- 4 large basil leaves
- 80z package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup homemade crème fraîche or sour cream
- 2 cups fresh spinach, sautéed and well-drained
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
To sauté spinach, place a frying pan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook for 4-6 minutes until it has reduced in half. Press with a fork to remove liquid. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the cream cheese, crème fraîche, spinach, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Place a single large basil leaf in the bottom of each squash.
Stuff the squash with equal parts of the cream cheese mixture.
Bake at 350º for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the squash, until fork tender.
For the garnish-
- 2 slices thick cut, hickory smoked bacon
- 4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 sprigs of thyme, picked
- 6-10 small basil leaves
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Shaved fresh parmesan (I forgot to add this, but it would be great!)
Cut the bacon slices into 1/4 inch strips and fry over medium-heat until crispy, but still slightly chewy.
Arrange two squash halves in a stacking pattern. Scatter cherry tomatoes, fresh thyme, and bacon around the plate. Top with basil leaves,a light drizzle of olive oil, and freshly cracked pepper. Serve hot.
For anyone interested in visiting Felix’s antique store in Vincent, Alabama, be sure to check out his website at SpringCreekAntiques.com for directions and store hours.