May I ask a question? WHY do people like zucchini? I mean, I understand not disliking it, or thinking it’s fine… but, people who LOOOOOVE zucchini? WHY?? I just had to ask. I personally think it’s fine, and I will eat it, but I certainly don’t skip through the produce section, seeking out zucchini with joy in my heart. I’ve always found it to be kind of watery and tasteless, and usually mushy.
And with a glowing intro like that one… I assume you’re all ready for a zucchini recipe?? Yayyyy, zucchini! Seriously, though – I do try to vary my vegetable intake in the name of health, so I’m glad to have found a way to eat zucchini that I actually enjoy. Not to mention, this recipe is pretty quick and easy, and doesn’t dirty every bowl in the kitchen. Win-win-win.
Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
half a yellow onion, diced fine
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 pound italian sausage (pork or turkey is fine)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
1/2 cup cooked brown rice, farro, quinoa, or wheat berries*
2 oz cream cheese
2 T parmesan cheese
2 T minced hot peppers (jalapeno or cherry peppers are great), optional
3 oz monterey jack cheese, grated
*You can skip this if making a grain just for this purpose seems like a real pain in the ass. However, I think it’s an excellent use for some leftover rice or quinoa from another meal!
1.) Preheat your oven to 325°F. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds and some of the flesh out of the center of each zucchini half. Lightly drizzle the flesh of the zucchini boats with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lay them cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the flesh is soft, but not mushy.
2.) While the zucchini bakes, start on the stuffing. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of oil, and saute your onions until they are translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic (along with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper – always season each layer of the dish), and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3.) Add the italian sausage to the pan; cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is cooked through.
4.) Throw in the drained tomatoes, brown rice, cream cheese, and parmesan. You can also add the hot peppers now, if you’re using them. My husband doesn’t care for hot peppers, so rather than adding them to the mix, I just sprinkled them on top of my zucchini boats, and left his plain. Stir everything together and cook until the cheese is melted and everything is warm.
5.) Turn on your oven’s broiler. Spoon the sausage mixture into the zucchini, and then top each one with some shredded monterey jack. Pop them under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browned, and then serve!
One of the best things about this dinner is that there is no need for a side dish! You’ve got your protein, your veggies, and your whole grains all in one place. And, you can totally change the recipe up to use whatever you have sitting in your fridge. You could do a version with bbq chicken and corn added to the mix… or go vegetarian and use canellini beans and ricotta instead of cream cheese.
Because the seeds and insides are removed from the zucchini (and they get baked, empty and upside down, for a while), it’s not watery at all. It’s just a great vehicle for holding all the delicious fillings! The number of servings you’ll get out of this will vary. For my particular husband, on the particular night we ate this meal, he took down FOUR zucchini halves (I ate two). On another day of the week, he might stop at two halves… or finish plowing through six. It’s hard to say. You could certainly serve this with a nice side salad or maybe some roasted potatoes, and help it stretch farther.
FINALLY, a decent recipe for squash,