Shitake and Walnut Squash Cups

Shitake and Walnut Squash Cups
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Shitake and Walnut Squash shells, easy but elegant!
Elegant and easy!

During the summer we, like you, have the endless question of what to do with those pesky summer squash. It’s not they aren’t good. It’s just that they are so darn prolific, which is the reason for the old joke about how people in the country only lock their car doors during squash season. But, perhaps today’s post will help. It’s a different take on the standard bland squash dishes.

We thought up these squash cups when we were thinking of what to do with four round squash from a CSA pickup. Looking at them immediately gave us the idea of slicing them in half, scooping out the insides, and making stuffed squash. But, what to use as a stuffing? Well, we had just made the Tourteau de Chèvre au Chocolat, so we had a bit of fresh goat cheese left over. Ah, and we know how to make Mushroom Pea Tartlets. Let’s use something akin to that for the filling. No matter how it turns out, we’ll have finished off a few summer squash.

Makes 6 squash cups

Shitake and Walnut Squash Cups

Shitake and Walnut Squash Cups

Ingredients

  • 3 round summer squash
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1/4 sour cream
  • 1 large shitake mushroom
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F

Coat a 6-hole muffin tin with cooking spray.

Trim off ends of squash, halve, and scoop out inside to create a shell. Place each in a hole of the muffin tin.

Carefully slice six 1/8-inch thick strips off the shitake mushroom. Reserve for garnish. Remove and discard tough stem, then chop remaining shitake into small pieces.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix egg, goat cheese, sour cream, shitake pieces, salt, and pepper.

Divide batter evenly among squash shells. Top each with a strip of shitake, a teaspoon of nuts, and a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese.

Bake 35-40 minutes, or until squash is tender and cheese is browned.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/06/shitake-and-walnut-squash-cups/

Ingredient discussion:

You don’t have to go with round squash, of course; any that’s large enough for stuffing will work. We went with a shitake mushroom because of the strong flavor. Let’s face it, squash is bland, fresh cheese is bland, so we need something to crank up the flavor, and a shitake will do it. That’s also why we went with sour cream instead of plain heavy cream in the filling; it’ll add a bit more flavor. Same for the Parmesan cheese. The nuts: not only will they add a nice earthy flavor, but they’ll help with the texture. Without nuts, this would be a dish that has nothing but a soft, creamy texture. Fine for desserts, but not for a main. And, the standard recommendations/admonitions: eggs, free-range, and as always, Parmesan cheese never comes in a green can.

Procedure in detail:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray pan. We were baking a bunch of things this particular afternoon, so we took the easy way out and used some of the cooking spray. It won’t matter if you grease them instead; we’d use butter, for the flavor. Whichever you use, get a 6-hole muffin pan ready for baking.

squash shells
We used a teaspoon to scoop out the insides of the squash, trying not to cut through the bottom or sides.

Prepare squash. Slice of the top and bottom of each squash; this will help to make them a bit more stable. Cut each one in half around the equator, so that one half will stand on the sliced-off bottom, and the other will stand on the sliced-off top. Using a small spoon, scoop out the insides so you have a squash shell about 1/4-inch thick. Use the insides for another dish (we fried it up, along with mushrooms and red pepper, and used it to fill pita halves for a hot sandwich). Place each squash half in the prepared muffin pan.

sliced and chopped shitake
We wanted some slices of the shitake for garnish; the rest we chopped into pieces and mixed in the filling.

Prepare mushroom. We wanted this dish to show off some of its ingredients, so we carefully sliced off six strips of shitake cap, each about 1/8-inch thick. Because the stem is tough, we trimmed that off (and discarded it), then chopped the remaining mushroom into small pieces.

making filling
This recipe is really just mix, fill, and bake. What could be easier?

Make filling. This is what makes this a nice dish; it looks and sounds pretty fancy, but it is really easy. For the filling, thoroughly mix the egg, goat cheese, mushroom pieces, salt, pepper, and sour cream. That’s it!

filled squash shells
Our squash cups were the perfect size. We were able to fill them all, without any filling leftover.

Fill. Use a tablespoon to scoop filling into each of the cups. We found that about 1 1/2 tablespoons was all we could fit into each cup, but that worked just fine, since that used all the filling.

Garnish. We took an extra minute to make this look nice; you should, too, so place a strip of shitake on each cup, then sprinkle each with about a teaspoon of chopped walnuts, followed by a teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese.

squash shells
After 35 minutes, these shells looks great!

Bake. Slide into the oven and bake to 35 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the cheese is a bit browned.

Shitake and Walnut Squash shells, easy but elegant!
Shitake and Walnut Squash shells, easy but elegant!

Serve immediately.
These made for a nice light meal, along with a leftover Mennonite butterhorn.

It’s sometimes surprising what a nice dish you can make out of what are essentially leftovers. It just takes a little thought, the willingness to cobble together a couple of recipes, and, voilà, a dish worthy of its four stars. Not only did these work nicely for a main, these squash cups would be great as a side, or even a small appetizer. On the plus side, you can make the filling at least four hours in advance, keeping it covered in the refrigerator. Same with the squash shells. We prepared ours in the early afternoon, covered them tightly with plastic wrap, and they were perfectly fine when we assembled this dish 4 or 5 hours later.

Worth the trouble?

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