Zucchini is a wonderful vegetable that lends itself to so many ways of preparation. For those who grow it, it can sometimes get overwhelming which is a good reason for its many uses, I suppose. Zucchini is available all year long and you can find it in its usual green as well as yellow and white forms.
This recipe prefers the green ones –use medium sized and the thicker the better as the small, thin ones will be too hard to stuff. Hollowed out and stuffed with a savory meat stuffing and cooked in the oven (or electric roaster), it makes a wonderfully filling main dish. Cut into smaller pieces, it will work as an appetizer also. Since rice is in the stuffing, I’d serve rice or quinoa as a side but smashed potatoes would work as well.
The original recipe from which I’ve adapted this served 10 so I’ve cut it in half for you to serve 5 as an entrée. Leftovers – if any – can be an appetizer a day or two later!
- 5 – 6 medium sized (thick) green zucchini, trimmed on both ends
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder or granulated onion
- 1/2 c uncooked enriched long-grain rice
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 12 oz. tomato sauce
- 2 medium tomatoes, skinned & coarsely chopped
- 12 oz. water or chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut trimmed zucchini – unpeeled – in half through the center (not the length) to get 2 equal sized pieces. Using an apple corer, vegetable peeler or thin knife, remove the seeded core of each piece of zucchini and discard (or save for vegetable soup). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, garlic, pepper, salt, and granulated onion until blended. Do not over mix. Mix in the rice and stir until well combined. Loosely stuff each zucchini piece with meat mixture until filled, end to end. Mixture will expand during cooking so fill it but don’t pack it in. Lay the stuffed zucchini side-by-side in a shallow roasting pan. You may need 2 pans as they should not be crowded. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Sauté the onion until deep golden brown but not burnt, stirring often, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and water, adding salt, pepper and granulated (or minced) garlic to taste to the sauce. Ladle some of the sauce over the stuffed zucchinis. Cover tightly and bake for 1 hour; gently turn each zucchini over, ladle some more sauce over, recover and bake for an additional 1 hour.
Serve with rice or quinoa.