zucchini is one of my favorite veggies and summer is a wonderful time to enjoy it at it’s peak. if you grow this you know that it grows faster than you can keep up with eating it! so here is another recipe idea for all of that summer-time zucchini.
although i am not growing any this year, i had a couple of medium sized zucchini sitting in the fridge so i came up with this stuffed zucchini recipe for dinner. i didn’t want something too heavy so i decided against a breadcrumb and egg filling and opted for chopped veggies mixed with some ricotta and freshly grated parmesan cheese. heat this in the oven, finishing under the broiler for a few minutes to get the cheese nice and bubbly-brown. i love that nutty, salty, crunchiness fresh parm gets when you broil or toast it like that. that contrasted with the creaminess of the ricotta, the spice of the sausage and the freshness of the diced tomato and you’ve got yourself a yummy little package. the zucchini i used were medium sized and this still made enough for two to eat as an entree. if you use large zucchini (as they can become monsters during the summer) use only one or double the filling ingredients (other than the zucchini “innards”-stick with half of whatever amount you’re using). summer squash could be used in this recipe instead if you wish. i used spicy italian sausage in the filling but this could be easily substituted with sweet or turkey sausage depending on what you have on hand or what you are in the mood for.
Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini
- 2 medium zucchini (8-10 inches long, ~1 1/2 inches thick)
- 1/4 lb hot italian sausage patties (or links, in which case remove meat from the casing before browning)
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (please don’t use the canned dry stuff here- using fresh really makes a difference)
- 1/4 cup seeded and chopped vine or roma tomato
- 5 tbsp ricotta
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- heat oven to 425 degrees F
- heat a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat and brown your sausage, breaking into “crumbles” as it cooks with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
- once nicely browned, remove from pan to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. reserve about a tbsp of the pan drippings.
- while the sausage is cooking: wash and dry zucchini, then cut in half lengthwise and trim off the very ends of each one.
- using a small spoon (a 1/2 tsp worked well for me), scoop out the seeds and soft center flesh, leaving a shallow shell which you will stuff later on. reserve half of the scooped out flesh and chop it finely (you can discard the other half)
- arrange zucchini shells on a foil-lined baking tray or in a baking dish and drizzle each lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper
- reduce the heat of the skillet to medium and cook the minced garlic for about 30 seconds, or until aromatic
- add in onion and the chopped zucchini flesh
- cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for about 5 minutes. season mixture with salt and pepper.
- in a medium bowl, mix half of the parmesan cheese, the onion mixture, sausage crumbles, ricotta and the diced tomato until well incorporated. check for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed
- stuff filling into zucchini shells, mounding the top (i began using a spoon for this but ended up using my hands- it’s easier!)
- sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese, press the cheese lightly onto the filling if necessary to keep it in place. lightly drizzle with olive oil (oil will help the top crisp up but don’t go too heavy, you don’t want your zucchini boats to end up greasy)
- bake for 10 minutes
- turn the broiler on to high (depending on your oven), leaving oven door slightly cracked and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown. this should take only a couple of minutes. monitor carefully to avoid burning
- remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving
*these zucchini boats make a nice entree but also an excellent side dish (for a steak dinner as an example 🙂 )