Zapallitos rellenos (Stuffed squash)

I absolutely love Autumn! I love the rainy, cooler weather and the opportunity to eat amazing comforting warm food!! This recipe is a take on an absolute Argentine classic and perfect for this time of year!

Back home in Argentina, courgettes are round (imagine the shock when we came to the UK and saw they are long here!!) and therefore are perfect to fill! I grew up eating stuffed courgettes, filled with a lovely mix of courgette, mince and rice and cooked in a rich tomato sauce!

I have missed not being able to eat ‘zapallitos rellenos’ for the past 18 years and thought all hope was gone until a colleague gave me some lovely patty pan squashes from her allotment! These patty pan squashes work wonderfully as ‘pretend round courgettes’ as they have a similar texture and can be cooked in the same way – YAAAAAAY!!!


This recipe makes 4 good portions (if you use 2-3 medium sized squashes or 4 smaller ones!)


  • 4 patty pan squashes (or other type of squashes!)
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 red pepper – cut into small squares
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • Water or beef stock
  • bay leaves
  • 150g uncooked basmati rice
  • 250g beef mince
  • squash filling (from when you empty the squashes)
  • salt and pepper
  • dried oregano
  • 1 egg yolk
  • grated mozzarella


  1. Start heating a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan (which has a lid) and cook the chopped onions and garlic until it is transparent. Add the chopped peppers and continue to cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, grated carrot and 200ml of water and start to stir. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and bay leaves.
  3. Cover and let the sauce cook. Stir every few minutes and add water if needed.
  4. With a knife, cut the squash open in the middle and use a spoon to remove all the inside of the squash. DIscard the seeds but keep the rest of the filling.
  5. In a bowl, add the mince, uncooked rice, egg yolk, squash filling, salt, pepper and dried oregano and use your hands to mix all these thoroughly.
  6. Stuff each of the squashes with the mince mix and put the squashes into the tomato sauce. Lower the temperature and cover with a lid.
  7. Cook the squashes for approximately 45 minutes until the rice is cooked and the squash are soft inside. Make sure you stir the sauce often and you add more water to keep the consistency of the sauce.
  8. Add grated mozzarella to each squash and cook until the mozzarella has molten!

I hope you enjoy these lovely and comforting stuffed squashes and look forward to hearing how your versions came out!

Buen provecho 🙂

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