Oven 375 Time: 30-40 minutes
The other day I was browsing through my blog for a recipe I wanted to use. Yes, I use it all the time, it is like my own laptop cookbook. As I was noticing the recipes that were stuffed with this or that, from mushrooms, to potatoes, to peppers, spaghetti squash, and on and on I thought, hello, the thing I eat the most stuffed, especially in the summer are zucchini, where was a recipe for that? I have stuffed zucchini with everything from a-z, z being the zucchini itself you hollow out and use in your stuffing, or you should be! And of course, leftovers again can help you create a stuffed zucchini you will love and be proud of! Because of this, I have learned a lot of tips for making them along the way.
Zucchini is something that in a lot of cases bigger is not better as they say. The bigger the zucchini the more seeds and pulp you are going to toss, and if you have to buy it by the pound that can get expensive. I have always been a fan of the smaller zucchini about 6 inches long.. The main reason being it is firmer, and easier to grate for zucchini breads, muffins, etc., cooks faster, hollows out simpler, and makes the perfect size stuffed for your meal. Also, even tho zucchini are not flavorful, there is a hint of flavor I find in the smaller ones. One thing I have found is if it is hard to get it hollowed out, just run a knife through the center several times lengthwise, not cutting through of course, and kind of shred it a little then take your spoon and remove, leaving about 1/8 inch thick shell. Also it will sit easier if you slice a paper thin slice off the bottom in about a 2 inch long slice. I do not precook my zucchini, I know some do, but I like a crisp tender shell, versus a mushy one, of course it is your kitchen and your family so your choice. However, I have to admit here, I have never had a stuffed zucchini I did not eat, and am sure I never will!
Note: one of my favorite things to do is use flavored crackers that I whir up or smash up in my recipes where bread crumbs might be needed. They add a touch extra flavor and broken ones, which all packages generally have, can be used for this and not wasted. Just toss them in a container and when you want some, give em a smash. I find them easier to deal with and they don't mold like bread does, so keep a long time.
Here is what I used/did today: amounts of your choice for your size family:
Hollowed out my 3, 6 inch zucchini, first removing a thin strip from the top
Sauteed some diced mushrooms, with the diced zucchini flesh, till soft, added some precooked chopped fresh spinach, some finely diced sundried tomatoes, couple tablespoons, some turmeric, black pepper, herbes de Provence, to taste, my flavored cracker crumbs, about 1/3 cup, and Monterey jack cheese, shredded about 1/3 cup. Stuffed my squash, baked in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, topped with a little more of the cheese, and baked 8 minutes more. Like I said, my zucchini was crisp tender, if you want yours softer, cook an additional few minutes, test by sticking side with a knife or pressing sides together. When done to your likeness, then top with the cheese to finish off!
Stuffed zucchini can be a great change up from the heavier comfort foods we all crave in the winter. Give some a try with your ideas, or mine, either way you may be glad you did!!
My ingredient list, amounts of choice:
zucchini, small preferably
mushrooms of choice
precooked spinach of choice
cracker or bread crumbs of choice
spices of choice
finely diced sundried tomatoes
shredded cheese of choice
Note: if you have stuffing leftover, bake it up and eat as is, or use unbaked in a meatloaf or meatballs, your kitchen your choice!!