Saturday, October 3, 2009

Get Stuffed?

In September the cooler weather presents the perfect opportunity to make Baked Stuffed Zucchini. In the heat of August the idea of turning on the oven has absolutely no appeal. And, eating a full-blown hot meal has even less. So, when September rolls around, any remaining extra-large zucchini are stuffed and baked.
Stuffed zucchini is easy to make and extremely versatile. The ingredients used in the stuffing can be varied depending on what is on hand. Even better, it can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and then popped into the oven in time for dinner, leaving you free to go for a hike or tend to flower beds.
Baked Stuffed Zucchini
1 over-sized zucchini (at least 10 inches long)
1 tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small summer squash, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
½ c. peas (fresh or frozen)
2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh marjoram or 1 tsp. dried
Olive oil
1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Cut the zucchini in half length-wise. With a spoon scoop out the soft flesh and seeds, and set aside on the cutting board. If the hollowed out zucchinis rock when touched, flip them over and slice a small piece off their bottoms to help them sit level. Place them into a heat-proof baking pan large enough for them to sit side-by-side. Set aside.
Put a large frying pan on the stove and turn heat to medium. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Coarsely chop the reserved scooped out soft flesh and seeds and put them into the heated frying pan. Add the remaining vegetables. Stir to combine. Add the flat leaf parsley and marjoram. Saute the vegetables until they are crisp tender. Add a good grind of pepper and salt to taste. When the vegetables are cooked, remove the frying pan from the stove.

Spoon the filling into the zucchini dividing it evenly between the two halves. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese. Fill the pan with water about half way. Carefully place the pan into the preheated oven. Bake for approximately one hour or until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is golden brown. Using two spatulas transfer the stuffed zucchinis to a platter and serve. This dish is lovely served with Rice Pilaf and a mixed green salad.

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