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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Squash, squash, squash

I came home from my visit to my brother and his wife at their ranch laden down with all kinds of squash, several pkgs. of grass-fed ground beef, and eggs fresh from the chickens. Obvious solution: I had to find a recipe that incorporated all three.

I used Google—what else?—and found a recipe that sounded good, though as usual I changed it a bit and made it into a skillet casserole.

I also wanted to cook that large patty pan squash—see picture above. So I stuffed it with a mix of cheese, crisp bacon crumbled, breadcrumbs, onion, and garlic. To my mind, it wasn’t as successful—first of all, I overcooked the squash, boiling it an inch of water. Then I was too zealous in scraping out the inside and didn’t leave the shell intact. But the main problem was that the filling was too dry—maybe a disproportionate amount of crumbs, maybe needs some chicken broth or white wine or both. And another time I’d salt and pepper the squash before filling.

This time I did both recipes gluten- and dairy-free so Elizabeth could join us at dinner—there were four women at my dinner table last night: one for each decade—40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. No need to guess who represented the seventies, but I feel blessed to have good friends of all ages. I liked best what Elizabeth told her boyfriend over the phone, “I’m about to eat dinner with three awesome women.”

As usual, I forgot to photograph the dishes after I got through, but they weren’t too photogenic. A fruit salad—mango, strawberries, and plumcots—completed the menu.

 Squash and Beef Casserole

 Two summer squash—crookneck, zucchini or one of each

¼ c. water

¼ c. butter (There is dairy free butter and I couldn’t tell the difference in the finished product)

½ lb. ground beef

½ c. sweet onion, chopped

2 eggs

½ cup mayonnaise

½ c. shredded cheddar cheese (Daiya is the best gluten free)

2 c., more or less, of cooked white rice

Salt and pepper

1 tsp. or more Back to Our Roots Herbal Salt (contains no salt—use similar product but it’s optional)

Cook the squash until soft but not mushy in ¼ c. water. Drain and cut into fairly thick rounds. Put back in saucepan and add butter. Simmer until butter coats the squash.

Meantime brown ground beef and onion in skillet coated with non-stick spray, preferably olive oil. Cook rice separately.

Stir squash into hamburger and onion mixture, off the burner.

Whisk two eggs and then whisk in mayonnaise. Stir into skillet mixture. Add cheese and seasonings.

Can be made ahead and reheated for serving—just don’t scorch the bottom. Serve in skillet if you have a lovely cast iron one like I do.

I thought the original recipe needed something to spark it up and considered green chiles—but green chiles are ubiquitous in Texas food and I wanted something different. The herbal salt was my solution, and I think it accentuated a rich, buttery taste. Whole dish was delicious. Recipe said it served eight—four women finished all but one generous serving.

As for the stuff patty pan, you’re on your own.  I was fiddling with ingredients and adjusting amounts so that may be where I went amuck.

That extra half lb. hamburger since I had to defrost a lb. to get the meat for the casserole? I had the best hamburgers for lunch yesterday and today—my brother’s right. The flavor of his grass-fed beef is superb.

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