We leave in a couple of days for vacation.

The house is in that pre-packing stage, where everyone’s clothes are strewn on beds and errant toilettries wait for their assigned places.

My days are in that pre-packing stage, too: Scheduling doctors’ visits; getting the house ready for our house/pet sitter; rescheduling music and workout and volunteer activities for the kids.

All of which is to say …

I don’t have a lot of spare time.

Particularly for lavish dinners.

But that sweet man I married. He deserves a lovely meal.

Particularly on Father’s Day.

That’s how I came up with this:

An herb-stuffed, top round roast served on a bed of grilled summer squash.

This is the best kind of deception-cooking. It looks like it took hours of effort. In reality, prepping the stuffing was the most time-consuming part. (And that took a mere 10 minutes.)

The secret to this roast’s ease is in the cutting. Most stuffed roasts require elaborate, spiral butterflying — a technique that’s way overrated (and one I’ve never mastered). Making three simple, vertical cuts in the roast yields the same stuffing idea. Plus, it creates a pretty little star pattern that peaks through once the meat is sliced.

Slice, stuff, bake (or grill). It doesn’t get much easier than that — on Father’s Day or the frantic days before a trip.

Herb-Stuffed Beef Roast with Grilled Summer Squash

  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 2 cups fresh herbs (I used a combination of basil, parsley, mint and oregano)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 2 1/2- to 3-pound boneless top round beef roast
  • 3 large summer squash
  • 1/2 red onion

With a food processor running, drop the garlic into the feed tube. Process until finely minced.

Cut the woody stems off of the herbs. Wash, then dry them.

Place the herbs, lemon zest and lemon juice in the food processor. Season with salt and pepper, then roughly chop (using on and off turns).

With the machine running, add enough olive oil to make a rough mixture. The herbs should have a bit of body to them; the oil should just hold everything together:

Lay the roast on a flat surface, with one of the short ends facing you. Remove any strings that hold it together.

With a sharp boning knife, cut a slit down the roast’s middle. Cut to within an inch from the meat’s bottom. Unfold the roast.

Cut another slit down the right-hand side of the meat. Then cut a final slit down the left-hand side, being careful not to cut all the way through the roast. Unfold the meat from those slits.

You should now have a roast that looks something like this:

Salt and pepper the inside of the roast and drizzle it with olive oil.

Spread 1/2 cup of the stuffing all over the roast:

Add a bit more olive oil to any remaining herbs and process until you have a smooth, pureed sauce. Taste for seasoning, then set aside.

Carefully roll the roast up, beginning with one long side. Tie it securely with kitchen twine:

Rub the roast’s outside with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for a few hours (or go right to the baking if you don’t have time).

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees or fire up your grill.

Coat a glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Place the roast in it. Bake for an hour, or until the meat registers 130 degrees internally for medium rare. (If grilling, arrange your charcoal or gas grill for indirect heating. Place the roast on the cooler side of the grill, and grill for about an hour, turning every 15 minutes and checking the internal temperature after 45 minutes have passed.)

Let the roast sit for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut your summer squash into 1/3-inch rounds and your red onion into 1/2-inch wedges. Season both with salt and pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Place a non-stick grill pan over high heat. Heat until almost smoking.

Add the squash and onion and grill until charred and soft:

Place the squash on a pretty platter:

Remove the twine from your roast. Cut the roast into 3/4-inch slices and arrange over the squash and onion. Serve with extra sauce.