Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy National "Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbour's Porch Day!"

My sister texted me the other day.

How do you make stuffed zucchini?

Right now, everyone's garden (except mine) is overflowing with monster zucchinis.  My coworker went away for a couple days and came home to zucchini so big, you could carve them into a canoe.  She put them up for adoption, and I generously welcomed them into our home.

I remember mom would grow zucchini or get them from grandma's garden when we were kids.  All summer long we would eat zucchini.  Boiled zucchini with dried basil.  Ew.  Sauteed zucchini with onions.  Yum!  Zucchini bread. Mmmmmmmm!  Stuffed zucchini.  Yes, please. When we got zucchini that was too big to cook, or we simply had to many, she would shred it up and make zucchini relish or freeze it in containers for wintertime zucchini bread cravings.  

Mom would hallow out a zucchini, stuff it full of a meat stuffing mixture, top it with tomato sauce, and then right before it was done, top it with slices of American cheese, and broiled the cheese till it was all melty and browned.  Summer wasn't complete without eating stuffed zucchini until we were sick of it.

I sat in the (parked) car, texting my sister the recipe.  Not so much a recipe as a general idea of what you need to do.  Even though I had just eaten, my mouth was watering for stuffed zucchini.  I decided I had to take the smallest zucchini canoes and stuff them.

My favorite things about stuffed zucchini is that it makes great leftovers all week long and it freezes well for a quick dinner next month.

I started out by browning and crumbling two pounds of ground meat.  I used one pound grass fed ground beef, one pound organic 99% lean ground chicken.  You could use whatever ground meat you want and it would taste great. Since I used very lean meat, it did not need to be drained after it was cooked.  If you use fatty meat, be sure to drain it, or it gets too greasy. 

I chopped up two onions (one red, one yellow) and added them to the meat and cooked them till they were translucent.

I chopped up some fresh basil and oregano from my garden and added  that to the pan.

I also added a home canned quart size jar of drained, diced tomatoes, and two cups of leftover cooked rice.  I warmed everything up, added salt and pepper to taste and set it aside.

I took two giant zucchinis, washed them, and cut them lengthwise.  I scooped out the center where all the seeds are and make my boat.  I discard the seeds, but I remember mom would save it and add it to the ground meat to get more veggies in our diet.

I places the zucchini boats into a baking dish and carefully spponed the ground meat mixture into each boat.  I had enough leftover that I got a couple bell peppers and stuffed those as well.

Then I slowly poured some homemade tomato sauce all over the top of the zucchini and peppers.  

I put the lid on the peppers and put those in the freezer for later.  I put the zucchini in the oven and baked it for about 30 minutes, until the zucchini was soft.  Finally, I topped the zucchini with some shredded goat cheese mozzarella and put it under the broiler, until the cheese was all melty.

It was so tasty.  It was just like mom used to make, just slightly modified mom's original recipe to make it allergy friendly for me! (Mom would add seasoned bread cubes in place of the rice and top it with American cheese.)

Stuffed Zucchini

2-3 large zucchini (or bell peppers)
2lbs of ground hamburger (or chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, or your favorite combination)
2 onions, diced
2 tbl fresh chopped basil
2 tbl fresh chopped oregano
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups leftover cooked rice
salt and pepper to taste
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used goat cheese)

In a large skillet, brown and crumble ground hamburger over medium heat.  Drain if needed. Add onions and cook until translucent.  Add basil, oregano, tomatoes, and rice and warm throughout.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cut zucchini (and/or peppers) lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place in a baking dish.  Spoon hamburger mixture into zucchini.  Top with tomato sauce.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350* for about 30 minutes or until zucchini is tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and place under broiler until cheese is melty and browned, about 5 minutes.  Serve hot!

***This dish can be made ahead and kept for a day or two in the fridge or frozen for up to a month or two.  Just cover tightly and thaw in the fridge overnight prior to baking.  It will take a bit longer to cook, approx 15-20 minutes. 

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