Oh, squash season… That time of year when you may be trying to incorporate zucchini into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert. When mysterious bags of squash end up on your front porch. Seriously! It happened to us, just last month. #dingdongditchthezucchini anyone? Despite your best efforts to stay on top of harvesting squash when they’re at their prime size – nice and modestly small and still tender – there are always those few that get away from you. Or hide. But don’t waste that monster, seedy squash! I have the perfect stuffed squash recipe for it.
For overgrown zucchini or other summer squash, try this fiesta-style stuffed squash recipe! Packed to the brim with wild rice, black beans, and other seasonal summer veggies, it is gratifying, healthy, and downright scrumptious. The core recipe is vegan to boot! You can also choose to top it with cheese if you’d like.
We even let some of our squash grow extra large on purpose, just so we can make this. Don’t have a garden? That is absolutely okay! Go nab a couple of the largest summer squash you can find at the local farmer’s market or grocery store instead.
We doubled the recipe below, which you’ll notice in the photos. This was a massive cocozelle zucchini we were working with, and weren’t totally sure just how much it would hold. Also, the rice stuffing is great on its own too! Therefore, we were more than okay with having leftovers. Add a squeeze of lime juice and fresh cilantro, and the stuffing makes an amazing cold rice salad as well!
- One behemoth overgrown summer squash, or a couple smaller ones – the biggest you can get your hands on. It could be classic zucchini, yellow zucchini, crookneck squash, cocozelle (what we used), or others!
- 1.5 cups cooked wild or brown rice. Here is our favorite organic brown wild rice.
- Half an onion, roughly chopped
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 ounces of brown cremini mushrooms – about half a standard package
- An average size bunch of greens. We mixed a few leaves of collard greens, kale, and swiss chard each
- An ear of corn, cut off the cob – or about 1 cup
- 1 large bell pepper – approximately 1 cup chopped
- 1 cup black beans
- Tomato – either fresh or canned, explained in step 5 of the instructions below
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder, or one fresh hot chili pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Fresh cilantro
- Optional: cheese of choice. We recommend using organic sharp cheddar! You could also use a vegan cheese.
1) Cook the Rice
First, you need some cooked rice. Yet wild rice can take a bit of time to cook! Brown rice or jasmine rice would also be excellent in this recipe, but also take nearly an hour to cook. If needed, the rice can be cooked a day or two prior to making stuffed squash, and stored in the refrigerator until use.
One half-cup of raw uncooked rice grains will typically yield 1.5 cups cooked rice – the amount called for in this recipe. Follow the cooking instructions on the rice package, and add a pinch of salt to the cooking water.
2) Prep the Squash Boats
Find a baking dish that will fit your squash boats, once it is halved and splayed open. We have found it works best to use a glass dish that is small enough to hold the stuffed squash up, as opposed to using a flat cookie sheet or excessively large pan. As a result, it’s more difficult for them to tip over and spill their filling!
If your entire squash fits in your chosen dish, simply cut it in half “hot dog style”. We were working with a crazy two-foot long zucchini here, so we only used the fattest end – and cut it to the length of the dish.
Next, scoop out the soft middle seedy portion of the summer squash using a large spoon. Save this for the compost, or feed it to the chickens! Depending on the size and thickness of your squash, you may want to scoop out additional firm squash flesh to create more space for stuffing.
Make sure to leave a little “dam” of squash flesh at each end of the boat, to hold the stuffing in!
3) Saute the Onion, Garlic, Shrooms, & Greens
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
On the stove top, add the diced onion, minced garlic, and roughly chopped mushrooms to a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or butter. We love using our Lodge cast iron wok for this – and pretty much every other meal! We also used roasted green garlic here, because that is what we had on hand. Saute over medium-high heat, until the onions become translucent and the mushrooms soften and release their juices.
Next, stir in approximately one bunch of chopped hardy leafy greens of your choice to the same pan. We used a combination of collard greens, kale, and swiss chard because those were available from the garden. Plus, the swiss chard stalks add a wonderful bit of flavor and texture!
Salt and pepper to taste. Add ¼ teaspoon of cumin and ¼ teaspoon chili powder (or diced chili pepper).
Saute the greens to the point of wilting or just after, and then remove from heat. We add them at the very end intentionally, because nothing is worse than overcooked, mushy greens! Plus, they’ll continue to cook in the oven also.
4) Mix Rice Stuffing
Now it is time to assemble the “stuffing” for your stuffed squash.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the following:
- 1.5 cups of cooked wild rice
- 1 cup rinsed cooked black beans
- 1 cup of corn. We used fresh, cut from the cob, but you could sub with canned or frozen (defrosted first) if needed.
- 1 diced red bell pepper
- Sautéed onion, mushroom, and greens combo
Stir until mixed.
5) Add Tomato Base
Next, you’re going to want to add some sort of juicy tomato product. This could be a handful of chopped tomatoes, fresh from the garden, a half can or jar of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes, or even a few heaping spoonfuls of salsa!
As you can see, there is a lot of flexibility here. The goal is to add a little tomato goodness, both for flavor and to slightly increase the moisture content of your stuffing. Consequently, the increased moisture helps the squash cook faster and more evenly.
We added an 8 ounce jar of homegrown pureed tomatoes from the freezer – but remember, we doubled this recipe! Therefore, you may need a little less. Add a little and stir until the rice mixture is evenly coated and sticky, but NOT soggy.
Taste your stuffing as you go. As needed, add more salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, or even a little garlic powder to suit your taste preference.
6) Stuff the Squash
We mean business when we stuff squash. Fill those boats full! Make them capsize. Okay, not really! But close… Using a spoon, pack the stuffing down into the bottom and also pile it high!
If you do want to top off your squash boat with cheese, I suggest holding off until the stuffed squash is almost done baking so it doesn’t all melt off the boat, or stick to the cover.
Carefully pour a splash of water to the bottom of the baking dish, under the stuffed squash. As a result, this helps create steam and better cook the squash. Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil.
Bake on 375°F for 30-40 minutes.
However, you may want to check on it after about 20 minutes, because the time might vary depending on the size, type, and firmness of your squash, and your unique oven. To assess the doneness of the squash, use a fork to probe the edges around the stuffing.
Ideally, it is done when it is tender to the fork but not overly mushy.
Optional: Once the squash is tender to the fork, it is time to add cheese. Smother the top with grated, crumbled, or thinly sliced cheese. Place it back in the oven (uncovered now) for a final 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Organic sharp cheddar is the bomb with this recipe. Other choices like feta, parmesan, cotija, or pepperjack would also be divine! Or, your favorite vegan cheese.
8) Serve & Enjoy!
Finally, it is time to eat! Cut into manageable healthy portions and enjoy. If your squash is very large and mature, the skin may still be a bit tough. In that case, simply scoop out the insides (including the cooked zucchini flesh) as you go! I often use a steak knife.
To top off the fiesta flare, serve your stuffed squash with fresh chopped cilantro on top! Green and black olives are another stellar topping. Even more, you could add a dollop of salsa! We enjoy this dish with a side green salad and little slice of homemade sourdough.
Clearly, this stuffed squash was more than one meal for the two of us… So it is a good thing it makes delicious and easy leftovers!
In conclusion, this is the perfect summery, eat-with-the-seasons, super-satisfying recipe. Like us, maybe you’ll have many of the ingredients growing in your own garden! Finally, if you need some tips on growing squash, you might find this article helpful ~ “Squash Sex: How to Hand Pollinate Squash to Reduce End-Rot & Increase Yields”.
I hope you enjoy this stuffed squash recipe as much as we do. Please let me know in the comments if you make it yourself and love it!
Happy squash season, and above all, happy stuffing!