Stuffed Zucchini is the 30-minute cure to your summer-squash blues.
Is summer squash overtaking your life? Are you considering dropping 16 pounds of zucchini on your neighbor’s doorstep, ringing the doorbell, then running away? Is your freezer completely stuffed with excess loaves of zucchini bread? It’s time for Stuffed Zucchini to be a part of your life.
Stuffed Zucchini is loaded (literally) with the bright flavors of late summer: fresh basil, zippy red onion, and sweet bell pepper. Ground Italian turkey sausage adds spice and makes Stuffed Zucchini a hearty, healthy main dish. Thanks to all of the fab flavors from our other fresh summer ingredients, you won’t notice this healthy switcheroo one bit.
We could stop here, but why would we when there are fresh basil breadcrumbs to involve? We’re transforming a few slices of whole-wheat bread, Pecorino-Romano cheese, basil leaves, and a touch of melted butter into a golden, toasty breadcrumb “crust” atop each zucchini. Should you desire to lick any of these cheesy, buttery breadcrumbs directly from your plate, I support you.
Turn the zucchini blues into a squash celebration with Stuffed Zucchini. In 30 minutes or less, you will have a healthy, affordable summer party on a plate!
- 4 zucchini squashes, 5-6 inches long
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 pound ground italian turkey sausage, casings removed
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 regular slices whole wheat sandwich bread
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 cup pecorino romano, finely grated
Place rack in upper third of oven. Preheat to 425°F.
Halve the zucchini lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and discard. Then, scoop out the soft center flesh to create shallow zucchini “shells”, each about 1/2 inch thick, reserving the center flesh. Arrange the zucchini shells in a baking dish. Roughly chop center flesh and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high, then add the sausage, onion, and bell pepper together. Using a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula, break apart and brown the sausage, sautéing it together with the vegetables, until the onions are soft and the sausage is fully cooked, 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 additional minute, until tomato paste is broken down and incorporated. Add in the reserved zucchini flesh and heat through for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
Toast the bread slices in a toaster or toaster oven, then tear into large pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor, along with the basil and melted butter. Pulse until break is broken into large crumbs. Add Pecorino-Romano and pulse just until incorporated 2 or 3 times (Tip: Grate your cheese in the food processor first, remove from food processor bowl, then proceed with step as directed in this step. No need to wash the bowl in between.)
Fold half of the basil crumbs into sausage mixture. With a small spoon, mound the zucchini stuffing in to the shells, then sprinkle the tops of the stuffed zucchini with remaining bread crumbs. Roast in oven until the zucchini is heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden, 13-15 minutes.
- Leftover zucchini boats can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days.
- Parmesan can be used in place of Pecorino Romano.