Saturday, 24 July 2010

Zucchini Stuffed to the Gunwales

A typical summer morning, chez Ferdzy: Mr. Ferdzy is on his knees, rifling through the cucumbers. I'm next to him, peering under zucchini leaves.

"Uh, oh." I say.

"Found a boat?" he asks.

"Noooo... at least... well, a canoe perhaps. Or maybe only just a one-person kayak." I say hopefully.

Then I haul them out, and they're huge. The yellow ones are even the right colour.

Zucchini are like that. I swear, they were cute little babies too tiny and helpless to pluck just yesterday. How did they get so enormous in just 24 hours? We do pick our zucchini every day. The only way get a reasonable sized zucchini crop is to pick them small and pick them often. However, there always seem to be a couple that get missed one day and are the size of small whales the next. As long as you don't leave them so long that they get too tough to be pierced with a fingernail, they can be stuffed. Once the rinds harden, so do the seeds and the flesh becomes watery and insipid. What you've got then is either compost or an entry for the fall fair. Or possibly a nice fishing boat or small yacht. I'm assuming though, that you've caught your zucchini at the canoe stage.

4 servings
2 hours - 1 hour prep time

Stuffed Zucchini
Prepare the Zucchini Shells:
2 large zucchini, about 500 grams (1 pound) each

Cut the zucchini in half evenly lengthwise. Using a sharpish spoon, hollow them out. It's best to start with a shallow trough down the middle then widen and enlarge it. Be sure not to get within less than a quarter inch of the skin.

Sprinkle the insides of the zucchini generously, even extravagantly, with salt and set them aside for about 20 minutes as you coninue to prepare the filling.

Chop the scraped out zucchini centres fairly finely and set them aside.

Make the Filling:
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
450 grams (1 pound) lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes or other hot dried pepper bits
1 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
OR cooked rice

Peel and chop the onion fairly finely. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the onion. Once it has softened a bit, add the chopped zucchini centres. Cook, stirring frequently, until any liquid is mostly evaporated and the onions are lightly browned. Sprinkle the seasonings over the vegetables, and add the crumbled ground beef. Continue cooking and stirring, until the beef is browned all over and broken into quite small crumbles. You do not want big chunks of beef here.

At this point, add the crumbs or rice, and mix in well. Once the mixture is well amalgamated, you are ready to stuff the zucchini.

Finish the Zucchini:
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Rinse off the zucchini shells, and shake them dry. Oil a baking pan that will hold the zucchini nicely. Arrange the zucchini halves in the pan.

Divide the meat mixture evenly amongst the zucchini halves. Drizzle the tomato sauce over the tops.

Bake for 1 hour, until the zucchini are tender.

Last year at this time I made Green Beans in Tomato-Yogurt Dressing.


Jennifer said...

Love this recipe and perfect timing as we have lots of zucchini around!

Joanne said...

I love the monster zucchini that inevitable arise in people's gardens...they end up in the funniest shapes. This stuffing looks and sounds delicious! Perfect even for small, normal-sized zucchini.

Maggie said...

I love zucchini, thanks for this recipe!!!

I'm also into the food blog world, and it would be great if you can take a look at my site and leave me any comment/suggestion.
Take care and keep posting!

Zoe said...

Your stuff is oh so good. My favorite is the mac and cheese as you know! This looks as if it could be a runner up in food I love.
Auntie Susan

Susan said...

Yum, yum

Susan said...

Delish as always. Your garden looks great and Mr. Ferdzy looks slimmer! I did not see any tomatoes and am worried.

Susan said...

yum, I'm making again tonight

Ferdzy said...

Why, Suzie! It seems you really like this recipe! I'm sure we'll still have some zucchini next time you are here...

Susan said...

Yet again wonderful!

Susan said...

First zucchini in farmers market. Rather small, but very lovely. Making one of my favorite dishes of your, Mac and cheese does not count

Ferdzy said...

Egad! We just PLANTED our zukes today. Inside.

Enjoy your California seasonal dish!