When Jeff and I visited the Torrance Farmers Market last month, I decided to break free of my over-planning librarian nature for just one week and be spontaneous. Instead of going to the farmers market with a predetermined menu and list of ingredients, I told Jeff that — just this once — I’d be willing to build our week’s menu off of whatever fresh items we discovered on our outing. For the most part, this experiment worked, although I am back to planning out our meals weeks at a time. One of the most successful meals from that venture was grilled stuffed zucchini. We happened to stumble upon some fabulous looking zucchini the size of an eggplant. Since we usually eat zucchini as a side dish, we weren’t quite sure we what would actually prepare to make use of a zucchini that size. But, then it hit me….stuffed zucchini as an entire meal. And Jeff was game — despite my confession that my one prior pre-Jeff attempt at making stuffed zucchini was a soggy mushy disaster.
When we got home, we immediately started scouring the web for stuffed zucchini recipes. I told Jeff that I really wanted to make a grilled version for this second attempt, and he agreed that grilling it might help prevent a repeat of the soggy mush mess I encountered before. Plus, Jeff pretty much always prefers grilling to baking. We struck gold with this amazing recipe from Our Best Bites.
The dish turned out fabulous. Absolute delicious heaven. We chose to serve it with a side of angel hair and marinara, but we both would have been content with just the stuffed zucchini for dinner. We don’t ever see zucchini that size at the grocery store, so next time, we’ll probably just stick to two medium size ones and serve these to the kids as a side dish instead of a full meal.
Updated 5/29/16: To make this count as a full meal, we make this dish with 2 large eggplant-sized zucchini (which we find at at the farmers’ market, not our grocery store), and 2 links of spicy Italian turkey sausage. This provides a full serving of vegetables and a full serving (4 ounces raw) of protein per person. Those adjustments are noted in the recipe below.
- 2 large zucchini (about 12", close to an eggplant size)
- 8 oz Italian turkey sausage (we used 2 light spicy links)
- ¼ C diced red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium tomato (about ½ C diced)
- 1½ T chopped fresh basil
- ⅔ C Italian cheese blend
- 1 T Italian style bread crumbs
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil (we used two ½ T measurements)
- Slice zucchini in half length wise, leaving the tops on.
- Scoop out the centers, saving them in a bowl. Leave at least ¼ inch around the edges and bottoms. Take the good parts of the zucchini guts you just scooped out and dice up ½ cup. This will go in your filling.
- Drizzle the zucchini shells with a ½ Tbsp. of olive oil and use your hands to rub it on all sides. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and black pepper and set aside.
- Preheat your grill outside and then start your filling in a skillet on the stovetop. Start by browning the sausage. When you no longer see pink, add the onions, garlic, and diced zucchini. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is tender. Add tomato and basil, ¼ t kosher salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- Place zucchini on the grill, hollow-side down, and grill for about 5 minutes on medium heat. They should have nice charred marks and look tender on the inside.
- Return zucchini to the kitchen. Add cheese and bread crumbs to filling mixture. Stir to combine and then divide the filling between the zucchini. Top each zucchini with about 1Tbsp. of cheese and sprinkle with ¼-1/2 tsp. of bread crumbs. Drizzle with the remaining ½ Tbsp. of olive oil.
- Place zucchini back on the grill (filling side up), close grill lid, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Larger/thicker zucchini will obviously take longer to cook.