My friend Leslie is a world class self taught cook. She and her husband Randy have been friends of ours for forever and a day. I actually went to high school with Randy. His younger sister Sandy was a very good friend of mine and I was even in her wedding. Yep, I was there standing on the end of the reception line in a peach dress with a sheer floppy hat and dyed to match shoes. Gotta love those bridesmaid outfits.
I met Leslie for the first time on the same weekend that my friend Sandy got married. Randy had come home from college for the wedding with his new super cute girlfriend in attendance. All of the girls in our group were a little bit protective of Randy so I have to admit that I was all set not to like her, but she was one of those girls that you just couldn't dislike. Calm, relaxed and quick with a clever comeback, she was a girl's girl and an instant hit with us all.
We all soon married and my husband and I somehow landed up living in the same city as they and our friendship was cemented forever. I had the first baby and even though we had moved away by then, they were a natural choice for godparents for our daughter. For eighteen years Leslie made sure that a Hallmark ornament was in the mail for our daughter every Christmas. If I would have known she was that loyal I would had made it a stipulation that godparents pay for college. Well, that might be pushing it.
Anyway, like I said, Les is one of those naturally great cooks. She is world renowned (well, in my world at least) for her Potatoes O'Brien. Her succulent mustard encrusted barbecued turkey breast still lingers in my memory, but my all time favorite recipe discovery from dinner at her house has to be her Squash Rockefeller.
This dish, comprised of simple ingredients is one of my absolute favorite side dishes. I mean, it really goes with anything and I haven't met anyone yet that doesn't like it. Best of all? You can make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven after the guests arrive.
I've been making this for years now and must admit that I lost her original recipe long ago. Probably by now only the main ingredients are the same as her original recipe, but I think she'd still love this rendition. So here's to good friends . . . and the recipes we steal from them. Thanks for the inspiration Les!
4 small to medium size yellow squash
4 slices bacon, finely diced
1/2 medium size yellow onion, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 - 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed until it is well drained
1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 big ol' heaping tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place whole squash in a large stock pot. Cover with lightly salted water and place over medium high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until there is just a little bit of resistance when poked with a fork, approximately 10 minutes. Remove squash from the water and place on a plate to cool.
While squash is cooling, place a frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon to the pan and cook until it is almost crisp. Add the onion and saute until tender and transparent. To this mixture add the crushed garlic and saute for 1 minute longer.
Add the drained spinach to the pan and stir until it is mixed well with the vegetables and heated through. To this mixture add the cream cheese, butter, Swiss, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine thoroughly; set aside.
Once the squash has cooled, cut in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the seeds in the center of the squash. Fill the cavity with a heaping tablespoon of the spinach filling. Cover with bread crumbs (recipe follows) and place in a preheated 325 degree oven until heated through, 20 - 30 minutes.
1 large slice bread
1 tablespoon butter
Place bread in a mini food processor and process or rub between your hands until you have medium fine crumbs.
Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs and stirring frequently, pan toast until crumbs are a golden brown.