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Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Many Variations of Stuffed Zucchini

Are you struggling to find new ways to use your excess zucchini crop? I've tried a variety of recipes and ideas over the years. I already mentioned the success of my zucchini chips, using the dehydrator. Well, here's another family favorite that even my zucchini non-enthusiast loves -- stuffed zucchini.

Zucchini can be stuffed with bread or cracker crumbs, cooked rice, cooked meat, shredded cheese, herbs, salt and pepper then baked into a yummy side dish or even light entree.

The easiest for me is to simply cut one slice of dense bread into tiny cubes, toss with chopped zucchini that I scooped from the insides to form the shell. I add 1 minced clove garlic, 1/3 Parmesan/mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, thyme or savory. Then I stuff this into hollowed zucchini halves (sprinkled lightly with salt) and drizzle the whole stuffed zucchini with olive oil. I bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is lightly golden.

Because I don't pre-cook this filling in a skillet before stuffing, I only use about 2/3 of the scooped out flesh in the filling. Using all of it yields a soggy stuffing even after baking.

I use a melon baller to hollow out squash,
leaving 1/4 to 1/2-inch walls.
I chop the balls of zucchini
and add to the filling

hollowed shells sprinkled lightly with salt

before baking I drizzle with olive or veg oil

golden filling and slightly firm squash
 after baking

Here's another recipe that calls for the addition of a small amount of cooked meat. These can make a light dinner entree all on their own.

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini 

4 small or 2 large zucchini (about 1 pound)
1/2 lb Italian sausage (pork or turkey, bulk or removed from casings)
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
dash red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt (for the empty zucchini shells) 

Also, if using turkey Italian sausage, 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil for sautéeing the meat, zucchini pulp, and onion.

Split the zucchini into halves, lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh, leaving about a 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick shell. Sprinkle the shells lightly with salt. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Chop the scooped out flesh. In a skillet, cook the sausage with the chopped zucchini flesh and onion until meat is cooked but not browned, drain (if needed) and toss with the bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.

Fill zucchini shells with the cooked mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes.

Other meat, cheese and seasoning possibilities: 

  • chopped and cooked chicken with sage, black pepper, cheddar (white would be nice) in place of oregano/Parmesan/red pepper flakes
  • browned breakfast sausage with sage, thyme and/or marjoram in place of oregano with or without cheese
  • browned chicken and apple sausage with sage and white cheddar in place of oregano/Parmesan
  • browned ground beef, chili powder, mild cheddar in place of oregano/Parmesan

Leftover crumbled cornbread can be substituted for the bread crumbs in any of the above combos.

Leftover cooked rice
Zucchini halves can also be stuffed with cooked rice and seasoning mixtures, with or without meat. I don't know about you, but I rarely make the exact amount of rice that my family will eat at one meal. Leftover cooked rice can be mixed in with cooked ground beef, some Italian or Tex-Mex seasonings and salt/pepper, then stuffed into zucchini shells. Top the cooked stuffed shells with either marinara (Italian) or salsa (Tex-Mex) plus some shredded cheese.

Leftover cooked polenta
Leftover cooked polenta also makes a good grain base for stuffing summer squash. Break up the cooked polenta, add some shredded cheese, chopped zucchini flesh, and maybe some diced red pepper. The resulting filling will be tender and flavorful.


notes:

When I plan on stuffing zucchini, I look for those that are about 11 to 12 inches long and 2  1/2 inches in diameter. These seem to cook evenly and quickly, while still providing plenty of stuffing capacity. 

My family prefers a firmer zucchini once baked. If you prefer a softer texture to the vegetable, you can steam the empty and scooped out zucchini halves in the microwave for a minute or two before filling and baking.




2 comments:

  1. The squash bugs have found our zucchini plants, so I only have one plant left. However, I do have a couple of zucchini waiting to be used. Maybe we will have stuffed zucchini for dinner tonight. Yesterday at work, another friend shared a stuffed zucchini recipe with me. It must be a sign. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      That's a shame about the squash bugs. Enjoy the zucchini that you have remaining. I wonder what you'll choose to stuff yours with?

      Delete

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