Published this week in my CSA newsletter, Bob’s Fresh and Local.
Years ago I had a cookbook called, Too Many Tomatoes. I remember the chapter on zucchini that featured Zucchini Chocolate Cake. Wow, was it good!
Another thing I like to do with zucchini is stuff them…well, sort of. What I really like to do is halve the zucchini lengthwise, scoop out the middle and set aside, rub the halves with extra virgin olive oil, lightly salt and season them with the seasonings that will be in the filling, and roast them. Then I pile one or another delicious topping on the roasted zucchini halves.
Here are two of my favorite toppings: one Mexican influenced, the other Middle Eastern. Some parts are cooked, some raw — and I serve them either slightly warm when they’re freshly prepared or later, cold. I don’t like to roast the whole thing altogether but prefer a lighter summery “salad” approach.
MEXICAN-STYLE “STUFFED” ZUCCHINI
- Brown Basmati rice, dried, one cup
- Black beans, dried, one cup
- Corn, 1 cup cut from ear
- Red bell pepper, 1
- Red onion, 1/4-1/2 large
- Chard, ribs cut away and chopped, 2 cups
- Avocados, 2 good size
- Limes, 4 juicy
- Salt, 1 slightly rounded tsp. plus 1/4-1/2 tsp. (for the avocado sauce)
- Hot paprika, 1/4 – 1 tsp.
- Cumin, 2 tsp.
- Cook rice with extra virgin olive oil, 2-1/2 cups water and 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.
- In a separate pot, cook black beans until barely tender. Set aside.
- Lightly steam corn and set aside.
- Chop the chard, petite dice the red onion and red bell pepper.
- Toss the prepared veggies together with a tsp. of salt, 1/4-1 tsp. hot paprika (to taste), cumin, juice of two limes.
- Pile onto roasted zucchini halves and top with a dollop of avocado sauce (avocados, juice of two limes, salt and hot paprika to taste).
Here’s one more filling/topping from one of my favorite chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi, a Middle Eastern version. In his recipe he uses eggplant, but it works just as well with zucchini:
MIDDLE EASTERN-STYLE “STUFFED” ZUCCHINI
Chermoula Sauce Ingredients
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chili flakes (I used 1 tsp hot paprika)
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 TB finely chopped preserved lemon peel (If you can’t get preserved lemon, you can use the same amount of lemon peel)
- 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
Bulgur “Filling” Ingredients
- 1 cup fine bulgur (#1 cracked wheat)
- 2/3 cups boiling water
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 3.5 TB warm water
- 1/3 oz. (2 tsp) cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
- 1/3 oz. (2 tsp) mint, chopped
- 1/3 cup sliced pitted green olives
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1.5 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup tahini sauce
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- After hollowing out and rubbing the halved zucchini in extra virgin olive oil, brush the chermoula sauce on the cut halves. Roast halves until done.
- Add 2/3 cups boiling water to the cracked wheat, soak until tender, then drain and ring out the wheat.
- Soak the golden raisins in 3/5 TB warm water.
- Lightly toss the raisins, cilantro, mint, green olives, almonds, green onions and lemon juice into the cracked wheat. Add salt if needed.
- Pile topping/filling onto the hollowed and roasted zucchini.
- Drizzle tahini sauce over all (tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, water).
Have fun with this method! Try other versions like Italian or Asian. Oh, and the zucchini pulp you scoop out of the middle? Save it for later use in a pureed soup. I’m going to cook and blend mine with leftover tomato cores from another salad, some onion, a bit of ginger, salt and hot paprika. Yummm!
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