I have no witty repartee for you today, just a good, filling, tasty recipe. This looks time-consuming and laborious, but it’s really not. It also looks very impressive on a dinner plate. Don’t be surprised if you come to my house for dinner and this is what I serve; my husband gave it his stamp of approval, “Put it in the rotation.” (I also learned there are several different dinner rotations in his opinion….but that is another story for another day.)
This recipe was created after I read several other recipes online, including one by Rachel Ray, for stuffed zucchini. I wasn’t in love with any one recipe, so I combined elements of various recipes, added in other ingredients I like, and voila, came up with my own creation. Unfortunately for my kitchen, I made the changes, tweaks, combinations, and such as I was cooking, which meant a bigger mess than usual.
As is usually the case in my cooking, measurements are not exact (I just throw in more ingredients as I go, seasoning to my tastes), so feel free to tweak this for yourself.
- 4 zucchinis (5 or 6 would probably work better though…I had leftover filling)
- 1 package ground turkey (omit if you want a vegetarian meal)
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (save the juice though!!)
- ½ an onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 10 fresh basil leaves, torn
- Crushed red pepper flakes (use however much you like. I used about a teaspoon or so)
- Cayenne pepper (again, its up to your desired heat level. I gave the jar two good shakes)
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs (you can use regular or Italian bread crumbs…I only had panko on hand)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Parsley, roughly chopped
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Wash the zucchinis and slice them in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh and save it in a bowl. Place each zucchini half on a cookie sheet and pour a bit of olive oil in each half. Put the zucchinis in the oven and let them roast while you make the stuffing. I left my zucchinis in the entire time, which was probably 30-40 minutes.
Here are my zucchinis, drizzled with olive oil, and ready to pop in the oven.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the onion, bell pepper, the zucchini flesh, a few shakes of the red pepper flakes, the fresh basil, the fresh oregano, and the smashed garlic (I like to add this last to prevent it from burning). Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add in the diced tomatoes.
Meanwhile, in another pan, brown the ground turkey with some salt, pepper, a dash or two (or three if you like it hot!) of cayenne, and the dried oregano. Once the meat is browned, drain it of any fat. Don’t wash this pan yet; you are going to need it again in a minute! (Skip this step if you are omitting the meat. Just add the seasonings directly to the veggies.)
Add the white wine to the cooked veggie mixture, and cook about 2-3 minutes. Next, add the meat and the reserved tomato juice to the veggies. Turn the heat down a bit (about medium-low) and continue cooking until the tomato juice evaporates. Be careful though, you don’t want it totally dry so the food is sticking and burning.
While you wait for the tomato juice to cook off, add about 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan you cooked your meat in over medium heat. Once the butter melts, throw in the panko bread crumbs and the 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, just until the bread crumbs get toasted (feel free to add more butter if needed). Throw in the Parmesan cheese, the parsley, and season with pepper. Give it a good stir and then dump the whole thing in with the meat and veggie mixture. Stir that up, check that it is seasoned to your liking, add more seasonings if needed, and then pull your zucchini out of the oven. They should be nicely roasted at this point.
Using a spoon, fill the stuffing into each zucchini boat. It’s ok if it slops all over the place! Sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese on top of each boat and put the zucchini back in the oven for about 5 minutes. You just want to crisp the bread crumbs up a bit and melt the cheese.
Here are the zuchs, stuffed, waiting to be sprinkled with cheese & put back in the oven:
Remove from the oven, plate, and garnish with a fresh spring of oregano. Enjoy!