Featured Food: Zucchini
Nadja’s Stuffed Zucchini
1 or 2 monster-sized zucchini
3-4 cups rice (cooked)
1 box of mushrooms (crimini or white button)
1-1.5 lbs. ground turkey or pork with Italian spices (you can ask your local butcher to mix in some Italian seasoning)
1 large onion
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I like garlic and basil)
1 cup cheese, I recommend mozzarella (you can also use jack or cheddar – use your favorite meltable cheese)
1 cup breadcrumbs
(Amounts of the following ingredients will depend on the size of the zucchini.)
Go out to your garden and discover that you forgot to pick several, now monster-sized zucchini. Pick them and take them in.
Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees. Cook up the rice. Brown meat in a pan. Wash and dice mushrooms and onion. Sauté onion and mushrooms in a pan. Wash and halve zucchini lengthwise. Scoop out innards to make room for the filling and remove the pithy core. If necessary, slice a small, flat area on the back of the zucchini to make a stable base. You want your zucchini to lay open on its back as it cooks. Lightly coat all sides of zucchini with olive oil. Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil. Place your zucchini in the baking pan with the concave sides up. Sprinkle Italian herbs into the zucchini, making sure to get the edges, too.
In a mixing bowl, combine meat, rice, some spaghetti sauce, onion, and mushrooms. Mixture should be damp or even moist, but not runny. Season mix to taste. I like to add a few shakes of salt, pepper, and onion salt. Dust the top layer with garlic powder. Add several shakes of parmesan cheese – make it look like it has just snowed. Taste it. The ingredients are all cooked, so the best way to see if it is seasoned well is to taste it. The flavor should be savory and a touch stronger than you would want to eat by itself, because it needs to flavor the zucchini as it bakes. For a more decadent stuffing, add some grated cheese to the mixture.
Spoon mixture into zucchini. Pack it in! Sprinkle the top with grated cheese, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 375-400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. The way to tell that it’s done is if you can easily poke the zucchini all the way through with a fork. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe by Nadja Masura