This will be the last summer squash recipe of the season… I promise! The first day of fall, however, isn’t until September 23rd, and this recipe is too wonderful and simple not to share. I’ve mentioned before that my family has been getting tired of the weekly, sometimes triweekly, doses of summer squash, so I’ve been trying to bring more excitement to this common vegetable.
For today’s recipe I used the eight ball variety of zucchini… No, sadly, this dish won’t give you vague and wavering inclinations of your future if you ask it, but it does taste really good! I haven’t used this variety of summer squash on the blog yet, so I’m excited to add it to the Simple Seasonal squash repertoire. It tastes fairly similar to traditional green zucchini and can be prepared in much the same way, but it has slightly nutty and buttery hints when it’s cooked and is far more fun to stuff. When selecting 8 ball zucchini, the smaller specimens are more tender and sweet, and you don’t want a fruit (yes, zucchini is technically a fruit) that’s more than 4 inches in diameter as the seeds begin to thicken and become barky and unpleasant to eat. For today’s recipe I used squash that was closer to 4 inches in diameter, as they allowed for more stuffing space, and I was removing the seeds anyway. It’s a great way to use up 8 ball zucchini that lingered in the garden a little too long.
This recipe is technically for squash bowls. It’s not a stuffing recipe per se, which I think makes the zucchini all the more delightful to eat. After your fruit is hollowed out drizzle the inside with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste (and maybe some hot pepper flakes if that’s how you roll), and then sprinkle with parmesan. Pop it in the oven while you prepare your orzo, and when you pull it out it will be tender, sweet, well seasoned, and not in the least bit soggy, as sometimes happens with stuffed squash.
While your zucchini bowls are roasting away, simply boil orzo per package instructions, mix in pesto, and garnish with a few pine nuts and grated parmesan. I made this recipe on a school/soccer night, so I opted for already made pesto; store-bought or your own frozen stash both work. As pictured, I served this dish as a satisfying vegetarian meal. If you like meat with every meal, it’s also good with grilled, cubed chicken mixed in with the orzo, or with grilled shrimp. There was no hassle involved and I was able to wash dishes as I went and answer some e-mails. Even though the squash takes a little while to cook, there’s very little prep involved with this dish. That’s my kind of weeknight dinner! Also, because of the dramatic presentation, it’s a low stress way to impress your next dinner guests.
If you’re looking for more squashy inspiration, you might enjoy these recipes:
- Warm Summer Squash Garden Salad with Salmon
- Zucchini Whoopie Pies
- Leek and Zucchini Fritters
- Grilled Personal Pattypan Pizza
- Stuffed Pattypan Squash
- Zucchini and Chive Quiche
- 4 4" round, 8 ball zucchinis
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes to taste
- 2 Tbs parmesan cheese
- 1½ C uncooked orzo
- large pot of water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ C pesto
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF.
- Cut the tops off of four 8 ball zucchinis. Using a spoon, scrape out the zucchini, leaving approximately ¼ inch of the zucchini flesh behind.
- Drizzle the insides of the squash bowl with olive oil, and turn them to evenly coat. Next, season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes (if desired), and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese.
- Place the 8 ball zucchini bowls into a glass baking dish and bake at 375º F for 40-45 minutes. They are finished when the flesh of the zucchini becomes soft, but the bowls still hold their shape.
- While the zucchini bowls are baking, make your pesto orzo. Cook 1½ cups of orzo per package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain, but do not rinse the orzo, as the starch left behind will make for a smoother, creamier pasta.
- After draining, gently combine the pasta with pesto. Because I made this on a weeknight, I went for my favorite in-house made pesto from my local grocery store (shhh… don’t tell!). If your pasta appears dry, drizzle in 2-3 Tbsp of pasta water at a time until the dish reaches your desired consistency.
- Finally, scoop the pesto orzo into the cooked zucchini bowls. Before serving, garnish with pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately.
allie @ Through Her Looking Glass says
Hot pepper flakes, parmesan, orzo. Yeah yeah yeah. That’s how you roll. Me too!!!! Gorgeous dish and beautiful presentation!!! Love those flowers too. Have a fabulous weekend!!!
Thanks Allie! My son helped me pick those flowers at a local farm. 🙂 With real scissors 😮 He’s such a sweetie!
so I’m kinda obsessed with squash. And pesto. You get an A+ in my book for this recipe for sure! YUM!
Lol! Thanks Lindsay. People who don’t like pesto confound me like people who don’t like chocolate!
Laura @MotherWouldKnow says
What a simple and lovely Meatless Monday, one-dish meal. Plus so cute. I love it. The pesto really complements the mild taste of the summer squash.
Thanks Laura! This recipe was one the appealed to my whole family too. Definitely a weeknight win!
Would you believe I never had pesto (or orzo, for that matter) until I was 18, and spent the summer in Italy? Now I absolutely love them, of course. The presentation here is so impressive!
Well, if you’re going to try pesto and orzo for the first time, I guess Italy is the place to do it. Now these foods can remind you of memories of your travels! Growing up the first time I tried pesto was while I was living in Kathmandu Nepal oddly. I was attending an international school and a girl in my class, Sophie, was from Italy and her Mom would send her to school everyday with some of the most amazing lunches. Thanks for reminding me of that!
I was gifted with an eight ball last summer–it was pretty large and while it was fun to eat the cheesy corn dip out of it, I didn’t enjoy the shell as much as I do when I stuff, say, a sugar pie pumpkin.
I’ll have to find some smaller ones.
The first time I picked out this variety of squash from our CSA I selected too large of a specimen and I ran into a similar problem. Whoops! Live and learn I guess.
What a perfect vegetarian meal! And perfect for a busy weeknight!
Thanks Renee! I made it on a soccer mom night 🙂
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says
Looks wonderful! I love using orzo we make it taste like risotto — can’t wait to try this. Thank you.
Thanks Marisa! If you make this, you’ll have to let me know how it turns out.
How very creative. I’ll bet the melding of flavors is fantastic.
The zucchini look lovely and I can definitely imagine how aromatic they are. 🙂
Thanks Adina. They did smell wonderful. It was torture taking photos and not being able to nibble!
Claudia | Gourmet Project says
lovely presentation, perfect for a dinner party!
Thanks Claudia. The best thing is that they’re really easy to make, so you’ll have more time to enjoy your guests!
I’ve never thought of using orzo as a stuffing – very clever!
Binjal's VEG Kitchen says
Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours says
I just love stuffed mini squashes, these look so amazingly good.
Michelle @ Thrifty Diy Diva says
This is so clever! And it looks delish!
I don’t recall ever eating an eight ball zucchini, but I bet regular zucchini would be oh-so-good prepared this way with the pesto orzo on the side. This is a perfect light lunch or dinner. Nice!!
This would be just as good with regular zucchini. Just less dramatic! Thanks Leslie.
I love this idea! It looks and sounds so good. Beautiful pictures!
Steph @ Steph in Thyme says
I have never seen this kind of zucchini before, but I must find it! It was certainly made for stuffing 🙂
It really is a fun zucchini to cook with. I’d check out your local farmer’s market!
Katalina @ Peas & Peonies says
Gorgeous pics, i just want to reach and grab one of those squash bowls!
Beautiful! I love the presentation! Looks so yummy!
How pretty. I don’t get tired of squash 🙂
Thanks Lydia. Nor do I! Just the rest of the family!
What a perfect way to capture fall! Beautiful photos!
Sara @ Life's Little Sweets says
Oh, these look so good, what a great idea!
these look so very pretty! gorgeous recipe and pictures
Brian Jones says
Sounds delightful, I stuff loads of things but never thought of doing it with a squash… A ‘doh’ moment’ 😉
LOL I love stuffing things… When I don’t know what to do with something I usually stuff it. It’s a no fail to deliciousness!
Oooh I’m pinnig you this week. An absolute pleasure! Your recipes are most definite simply seasonal.
Thanks Noor, and your so sweet!
Oh this looks so good Rachel! And you photos and presentation are amazing!
Thanks Judy! I had a lot of fun with this recipe.
This is just so beautiful, perfect and delicious, gots to Pin it !
Thanks for pinning Florentina!
Oana @AdoreFoods says
You can never post enough summer squash recipes Rachel! It still feels like summer and this recipe is looking too good not to give it a try! Pinned!
Thanks Oana! Myself, I’ve decided to embrace the extra long summer this year, and thanks for pinning!
Platter Talk says
This is a wonderful use of squash!
This looks so healthy and delicious – beautiful!
Thanks Sarah! This one was a lot of fun to make.