By the end of each summer many people are hard-pressed to find new ways to prepare the seemingly endless gifts of squash that arrive on their doorsteps from overenthusiastic gardening neighbors. I relish the Mexican flavors of beans, chiles, and sour cream, and think they work sensationally as a stuffing for squash. This dish can be prepared up to 48 hours in advance so it is a good choice for entertaining.

SERVES 4

4 medium yellow summer squash (8 inches)

2 tablespoons butter

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 small fresh jalapeo pepperimage, seeded and minced

2ВЅ cups cooked kidneyВ beansimage, drained and rinsed (about one and a half 16-ounce cans)

4-ounce can mild green chiles, drained and chopped

ВЅ cup sour cream

2 cups (8 ounces) cubed Monterey Jack cheese (ВЅ-inch cubes)

Minced fresh parsley for garnish

  1. Slice the ends off the summer squash and discard. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and with a teaspoon or melon bailer scoop out the inside of the squash, leaving a thin wall intact. Finely chop the squash centers and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet place enough squash halves to fit comfortably and add ВЅ inch of water. Cover the pan and steam the squash just until tender, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining squash. Drain each one well and place in a shallow buttered baking dish (or two). Cut the butter into bits and place in the hot squash halves. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain the water out of the skillet and dry. Add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Mix in the onions and saut for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, and jalapeo pepper, and cook 1 minute. Add the chopped squash centers and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often.
  4. Add beans, chiles, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the squash is tender. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and cheese.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350В°F. Stuff each squash shell with the filling. Press it in gently. May be prepared to this point up to 48 hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
  6. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until piping hot and bubbly. Garnish with minced parsley before serving.