Stuffed Pattypan Squash and Bell Peppers

It's week 3 of the daily special posting challenge, and the special I have chosen is a kitchen gadget that I don't have but have been lusting after for some time. It's a mandoline, which is a really great tool for cutting food into thin slices. You may think "I have a food processor for that," but you typically have to cut foods into manageable slices in order to fit them into the machine...with a mandoline you can keep them in large pieces and get super-thin slices and julienne cuts. It's just a great tool.

Now, onto today's recipe. As you all know, I love going to the farmers' market to support the local farmers and because I can get the freshest produce around. There are many times I am able to get a lot of unique vegetables I can't get at the regular grocery store, which is something I really love as well. One of my purchases from over the weekend was pattypan squash, which I have never cooked myself but have eaten at restaurants before and really liked. These ones were a little large, so I thought they'd be great to scoop out and stuff as you would bell peppers, which is one of my favorite dishes. Once I had the pile of squash flesh on my cutting board, I had to figure out something to do with it. I knew if I but it in a container and stuck it in the fridge I would forget about it. If I mixed it into the meat, there wouldn't be room for all the stuffing because I was essentially putting back exactly what I took out! So, I got a bell pepper out of the fridge and filled it with some of the mixture. This would be great for a dinner party because the different stuffed vegetables look pretty in their dish and your guests can have a choice of which vegetables they prefer. This is a really inexpensive meal, too, because you're only using a half pound of meat for four servings!

These were actually difficult to photograph because they kind of turned into amorphous blobs of marinara-covered cheesy goodness, but I tried my best. They tasted really good, which is what's really important!

Stuffed Pattypan Squash and Bell Peppers
Printable Recipe

2 pattypan squash (about 6-8 ounces each)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, any color
1/2 lb extra-lean ground turkey
1 egg
3/4 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups low-sugar marinara sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut a small amount of the stem end off the pattypan squash. Using a melon baller, gently scoop out the flesh of the squash, leaving about 1/8-inch margin (it's really important for the wall to be thin, otherwise the squash won't cook through), being careful not to pierce the sides of the squash (see photo).
3. Coarsely chop the flesh of the squash. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add the oil.
4. Add the squash, garlic, and onion to the skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables until tender, then remove them to a bowl to slightly cool.
5. Halve the pepper from top to bottom and remove the ribs and seeds, leaving the top part of the stem intact.
6. Once the cooked vegetables are cool, add the turkey, egg, 1/4 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, oregano and some salt and pepper. Gently mix all the ingredients together. Divide the mixture into quarters and stuff each vegetable with some meat mixture, mounding the meat up a little bit.
7. In an oven-proof, non-reactive baking dish, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add half a cup of the marinara, then place the vegetables on top. Pour over the remaining sauce, using a spoon to smooth it over the surface of the meat to help keep the meat moist.
8. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F once inserted into the meat. Add the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake for about 5 minutes more, or until the cheese melts.

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