Monday, August 4, 2008

Interesting Vegetables: Part Four

Let's face it, zucchini can be pretty scary this time of year. If you're a gardener, its likely taking over your yard right about now. And, if you've got a friend or family member who's a gardener, they're likely trying to pawn great bushels of it off on you. Fortunately, I love the stuff and am always happy when my bro has some to share. In this case, said zucchini was about the size of my forearm. It was big. BIG. That picture doesn't do it justice! When faced with a squash of such threatening magnitude, the best way to tame it is to stuff it.

I'm sure it would have been delicious if simply steamed as a side dish - but this baby was more meal-sized and seemed to demand the spotlight. I have a magnificent stuffed zucchini recipe that I've been making for 15 years. The original is from the Weight Watcher's Favorite Homestyle Recipes cookbook - which may well be out of print by now. It was published in 1993, and I've been cooking with it ever since. Its excellent - though typically I find the dishes need more seasoning than the recipes suggest. I modify them as I see fit. Its a great source for ideas and the recipes are simple and mostly of the quick-cook variety. Amazon does have copies of the book, new and used, and I do recommend it.

Hollowed out and filled with a melange of savory vegetables, the stuffed zucchini makes a lovely, vegetarian main course and would be well served by a side of brown rice pilaf to complete the meal. If your zucchini is of lesser proportions, by all means serve it as a delightful and hearty side dish. Either way, its all good ... and far less threatening when pulled from the oven, bubbling hot and oozing with melted Parmesan.

Stuffed Zucchini:

  • 1 very large, or 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup of Crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Summer Savory
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • generous grinding of fresh black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • @ 4 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut zucchini in half, lengthwise, and using a teaspoon - hollow out the zucchini, removing the pulp from both halves while leaving @ 1/4 inch of the shells intact. (See above photo.) Dice the removed pulp and set aside.

Using a vegetable steamer large enough to hold the squash, steam the zucchini over high heat for @ 3 to 4 minutes or until the shells are just tender when pierced with a fork. Do not over cook! Remove the shells from the pan when tender and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat and sautée the onions, carrots, mushrooms and celery until the onion is translucent and the carrots are crisp/tender - @ 3 to 4 minutes. Add the reserved zucchini pulp and the salt, summer savory, cayenne pepper, curry powder, black pepper and chicken broth and continue sautéeing the vegetables until the squash is tender and most of the chicken broth has cooked away. Add the chopped parsley, stir well to combine and remove from heat.

Pre-heat your broiler. Spoon the cooked vegetable mixture into the reserved zucchini boats in equal measure and top with the grated Parmesan cheese - @ 1 or 2 tbsp. per zucchini - but that's up to you. (More cheese is never a bad thing, just be sure its freshly grated and not the powdered stuff.) Place the stuffed zucchini in a heat safe, low-rimmed dish or on a baking sheet and broil until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown - @ 3 or 4 minutes, depending on your broiler. Serve and enjoy!

Here's the finished product:

If you're vegetarian, feel free to substitute some vegetable broth for the chicken stock. If you're on Phase 1 of South Beach, leave out the carrots and substitute some diced yellow bell peppers. As a main course, this recipe will serve two. As a side dish ... its up to you ... larger squash can be halved again to serve four, or not, depending on your appetite. Bon Appetite!



Bit like a posh stuffed pepper... LOL! No I love stuffed peppers but I've never had a zucchini. Come to think of it I've never even HEARD of one!

Haha, it looks a bit like a courgette or a marrow and they're okay - I doubt you could grow one of these in the yard here though - it rains too much and is near 0 degrees at night even now!

Scarlet x

P.S. I'm not sure if you really need the picture but then again I didn't really read the rules properly when I got the award (whoops) - I copied mine from the woman who sent me the award but it ended up tiny compared to hers. I suppose you could try copying it too but then it might end up miniscule lol!

The Diva on a Diet said...

I think they are called courgette in your world. LOL - it *is* like a posh stuffed pepper ... and yummier too! :)


Rashmi said...

sounds like a great reciepe...

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