Pork Gyro Stuffed Cacuzza Squash

Guess what season it is??


Okay, yeah... So it's the best season ever-- Halloween/Thanksgiving/My Birthday/Christmas/New Years/etc. But besides that...
It's Cacuzza Season!!

So my neighbors have this plant in their backyard, a Cacuzza plant. A Cacuzza (pronounced Kuh-Goo-Dza) is an abnormally long Italian squash... and my dad ALWAYS makes sure to make fun of it. It's safe to say he really isn't the biggest Cacuzza fan. He refuses to eat it because he swears that it's some wild plant that's inedible, no matter how many times I've told him differently. It's okay, though. It's his loss and that means there is more Cacuzza for me!


Anyway, it tastes kind of bland (but don't worry, the filling in this dish definitely makes up for the lack of flavor in the squash.) When raw, the inside resembles a white cucumber. The texture after cooked is similar to a cross between a zucchini and an eggplant.
My neighbors always make sure to give me a few each time this year. They have two recipes that they make with it: spaghetti and soup (kind of like a beef & tomato stew with noodles). I've tried both of them when they make it, but have never actually made either myself. Usually, my dad will cook it with other vegetables in a tomato sauce as a side (and then pick around it, of course), but this year I wanted to try to make my neighbor's soup recipe.

Me, casually walking around my neighborhood with my meter long squash.

As soon as I got home from my neighbor's (after my dad made fun of the squash for a while, comparing it to a baseball bat- which I have to admit... It does look like one.) I started breaking it down. Especially with a long one--mine was almost three feet long--you need to break it down into pieces in order to peel it in the easiest way. While I was cutting it, I realized it resembled little boats, and that's when I got the idea to stuff them. So, I guess I'll have to cook the soup recipe another time, but this was definitely worth it. I looked through my fridge, found some ground pork, and then I got inspired by my many Try the World boxes full of specialty ingredients that I have yet to use. I found a few leftover ingredients from my Greek box that I got a while ago: Trahana, which is a small pasta made out of sheep's milk (similar to risotto in texture), works as a thickening agent and Tzaziki Spice Mix.




These ingredients instantly made me think of a pork gyro. I don't want to mislead anyone by the name, though; It's definitely NOT a pork gyro, but I was inspired by the many components of one:

-Rotisarrory Pork--> Ground Pork
-Fresh Tomatoes & Onions--> Sundried Tomatoes and Red Onion (cooked in filling)
-Tzaziki--> Tzaziki Spice Mix (in filling)
-Bread--> Crispy Herb/Romano Cheese Breadcrumb & Feta topping
-Feta--> Feta... and LOTS of it



And of course... I had to use Cavender's seasoning. I mean, when we have a HUGE bucket full of it, you can't pass up using it in a Greek dish.
It's the best Greek seasoning... Just saying.



Finally, I was going to use Panko as my breadcrumbs, but then I found a box of Herb Puff Pastry Biscuits from my French box and used those instead. These are addicting by the way...
Just throw a whole bunch of parmesan, Cavender's and feta in with them, and you have the BEST breadcrumb topping.







Gyro Inspired Pork Risotto Stuffed Cacuzza Squash
Makes 6 "Boats" (1 medium-large Cacuzza)

  • 1 medium-large Cacuzza (2-3 feet long)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 cup dry Trahana*
  • 1/2 cup packed sun-dried tomatoes (in oil) + 2 tbs. reserved oil 
  • 1 small-medium red onion OR 1/2 1 large red onion- diced
  • 3 garlic cloves- minced
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • Tzaziki Spice- about 2 tbs.**
  • 1 tbs. capers + 1 tbs. caper juice
  • 1/2 tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs- Any kind will work, but I used these
  • 1 tbs. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. Cavender's (or any Greek seasoning)
  • pinch of salt & black pepper 
  • fresh parsley, toasted pine nuts, and feta for topping

*If you don't have Trahana, use any other short grain rice/small grain you would make risotto with-- I think pearl couscous or barley would be really good!

** If you can't find any Tzaziki spice mix:
-1 tsp.Garlic Powder
-2 tsp. Dill
-1 tsp. Salt
-2 tsp. Parsley
-1 tsp. Black pepper
-1 tbs. lemon zest

Pre-heat oven to 425º.
First, peel and then cut the squash into thirds and then in half to reveal the seeds/guts. Remove the insides with a spoon, similar to what you would do with a pumpkin or other squash. You should be left with 6 "boats." Set aside.

In a pot, sautée the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Once softened, add the Tzaziki spice mix and stir to coat. Add in the ground pork and cook on high until almost completely cooked through, making sure to stir the pork around and break up the pieces.
Add a pinch of both salt and pepper. Once the pork is cooked through, add the Trahana, or other grain, and toast for a few minutes, until it turns lightly golden-brown. Pour in the chicken stock, turn to a simmer, and cook until all liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Once cooked through, add the sun-dried tomatoes, capers, 1/4 cup Romano, and Dijon. Stir to combine and set aside.

Lightly rub the Cacuzza with the sun-dried tomato oil and roast on 425ºF for 10 minutes. Take out, stuff with filling, cover with foil, and bake on 375º for 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs, feta, dried parsley, Cavender's, and the last 1/4 cup Romano cheese together. Once cooked for the additional 50 minutes, remove foil, top each with an even layer of the breadcrumb mixture and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden-brown and crispy. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, top with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley, and extra feta and dig in!


XOXO
Cecilia A.

Comments

Sandra Schwan said…
Sounds delicious! And, I always love your storytelling, too!

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