Make tasty use of early summer vegetables and herbs with this simple and delicious dish
One of the great things about late spring and early summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables coming from the garden. Of course, when it comes to summer squash, that’s kind of a mixed blessing. One or two plants will produce enough fruit to keep you — and all your neighbors — up to your eyeballs in squash for weeks if not months.
When I was a kid the only way my mom cooked squash was sliced up, steamed and covered in butter. Not my favorite vegetable. But once I got older (and started paying for my own food), I learned that squash didn’t have to be mushy and boring. It could be flavored, broiled, fried, baked, and barbecued to make all sorts of delicious, nutritious and inexpensive dishes.
This recipe is one I adapted from my pesto chicken stuffed bell peppers recipe, but I use scallop squash (aka “patty pan”) in place of bell peppers. It’s a super simple combination that you can put together in under an hour, but looks and tastes like it took all day to make.
Terri’s Pesto Chicken in Scallop Squash
- 1 or 2 Scallop Squash – 1 large (6-8 inches across) or 2 small (4 inches)
- 1 Boneless skinless chicken breast (can substitute tofu or skip altogether)
- 12 ounces tomato sauce
- ½ cup fresh pesto
- Italian herb seasoning (oregano, marjoram, thyme)
- Salt and pepper
- Dry Parmesan cheese
Total time: 1 hour (20 minutes prep / 40 minutes cooking time)
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Prepare the chicken breast by sprinkling both sides with salt, pepper and Italian herb seasoning. Place the chicken breast on a baking sheet, put it in the oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160° F (15-20 minutes depending on your oven)
- While the chicken is cooking, slice the top(s) off of your scallop squash and remove the seeds from the cavity to hollow it out like a bowl. Sprinkle the inside with a pinch of salt and pepper and place it in a shallow dish.
- Once the chick breast is finished, remove it from the oven and put the squash in to cook.
- Allow the chicken to cool for 5 minutes or so, then place it on a cutting board and cut it into large cubes.
- Once the squash has cooked for 10 minutes, remove it and pack the squash “bowl” with the cubed chicken. Pour in tomato sauce to fill the bowl. Top filled bowl with a generous amount of pesto and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese before returning the filled squash bowl to the oven and cooking for an additional 18-20 minutes.
- You’ll know the squash is done cooking when it’s firm but soft enough to puncture with a toothpick and the Parmesan is a golden brown. Once it is, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for five minutes or so.
To serve, slice the squash bowl in half, transfer to a plate and dig in!