What can I say…another zucchini recipe. I have prepared zucchini umpty-dozen ways in the last few weeks and, surprisingly, I’m still not tired of it. I guess it’s the fact that it is so versatile that keeps it interesting. This version of stuffed zucchini is the result of what I happened to have in the fridge, but just about any combination of meats and veggies that suits your taste will make a good filling. I usually start with a base of rice and cheese and go from there. This can be served as either a side dish or an entree. I think it is delicious and very satisfying served with a green salad and some crusty bread.
I added a spiced up tomato sauce after the zucchini were finished baking but it can be poured over the zucchini before baking and covered with a layer of grated cheese. That’s the way my mother made this dish and it is very good prepared that way. This same recipe and technique work well with bell peppers.
The zucchini can be hollowed out with a teaspoon but the best and easiest way to do it is with a melon baller. It just takes a minute and it’s easy to get a nice, uniform thickness.
The filling cooks down so add plenty. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Some recipes suggest boiling the hollowed out zucchini halves in water for a few minutes to get the cooking process going but I have never bothered with this step. Just be sure to check them at the end of the cooking time to make sure they are soft. Some recipes say to trim the stem and flower ends but I leave them on because they help the cooked squash keep its shape.
The great thing about this recipe is its versatility. You can add meat or not…if you don’t like rice don’t use it…go for breadcrumbs instead. A meatloaf mixture is delicious with a baked on tomato sauce and grated cheese topping. It’s all about being creative and using what you have on hand.
- 4 medium zucchini
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¾ cup tomato sauce
- ¾ cups COOKED rice
- ½ cup black beans
- ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese mixed with 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and, using a spoon or even better a melon baller, scoop out flesh, leaving ½-inch shells. Chop the scooped out flesh into small pieces and set aside.
- Brown ground beef over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chopped onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chopped zucchini, cooked rice, black beans, grated cheese, cilantro, chili powder, cumin and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fill zucchini shells with mixture. Top with cheese and breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until zucchini is tender and top is golden brown.