You may remember my San Antonio Squash casserole recipe from last year around this time. Here is another chance for me to sing the praises of Tatume squash, also sometimes known more generically as ‘Calabacita’
Tatume is a kind of squash that is native to Mexico and portions of Texas. It grows like a champ at the Sunfield garden. It’s like a zucchini in terms of cooking but has a milder, more mellow flavor. It’s round like a small pumpkin. What’s really weird an wonderful
about Tatume is that it grows on a long vine like a winter squash. Because the vine is so strong and fast-growing, it outgrows cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and powdery mildew. It’s thick stalks make it more resistant to squash vine borers than other zucchinis and squash. I have found that it is slower to wilt than other squashes in afternoon heat as well. It likes to sprawl along the ground and it is hard to get it to climb without extra training, so make sure you have room for it or time and fortitude for convincing it to grow skyward.
For this recipe I adapted my mom’s stuffed green bell pepper recipe and added some Texas elements. Ifyou don’t have a Tatume you can use any kind of summer squash or zucchini. Just watch the cooking time in the oven because a smaller squash will cook quicker.
1 Lb Ground beef, bison, turkey or pork – you could probably make this vegetarian using tempeh or TVP but I haven’t tried it yet.
1/2 an onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 hot pepper of your choice, sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
Salt, black pepper, herbs and cheese of your choice to taste. I use Mexican Oregano.
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine meat, onion, celery and hot pepper in a large skillet. Cook until meat is browned. Add rice and tomato sauce to skillet. Mix the rice and the sauce with the cooked meat, onions and celery. Cook until most of the liquid in the skillet is gone, just a few minutes.
Meanwhile, cut your tatume squash in half lengthwise. Use a big spoon to scoop out the seeds and a make a smooth-sided cavity in the middle of each half.
Place the squash halves in a large casserole dish. Scoop the meat mixture into the cavities of the squash and mound it up.
Put the lid on the casserole dish and bake for 1 hour. You may need to add water to the casserole dish if it looks like it is drying out while it is baking. Usually tatume squash contains more water than most squash so this is not a problem.
After an hour, lift the lid and take a look. The squash should be almost fork-tender. At this time, sprinkle the top with herbs, salt, pepper and cheese. Bake another 10 minutes.
This dish can be made ahead on the weekend and reheated during the week for a quick one dish meal. I like mine with saltine crackers on the side. You could also make it ahead and freeze it.
When I made this I had leftover meat mixture that I used to make tacos. I added carrots and more hot peppers to it to make kind of a Picadillo type thing. It was also yummy!