Stuff a zucchini!
Have you ever opened the door to leave your house and been surprised by a mysterious bag of zucchinis? Well, I have. It’s a great trick that folks with prolific gardens like to play, and some of those suckers are as big as a Louisville slugger! My grandmother did this occasionally, and once we received an anonymous bluefish in return! She laughed her head off and went on to fillet that bad boy and make her famous Blunafish Salad for lunch...
We all have our go-to summer squash recipes. A few of mine include gratins, fritters, a raw salad made with zoodles (man, I hate that word!), and a new-to-me dish by Ottolenghi that I absolutely adore. By late August, you’d think I’d have had enough, but yesterday I grabbed a bright yellow zucchini, the kind with slightly tougher skin, and decided it needed stuffing.
Stuffing is awesome, because the ingredients can be whatever you’re feeling that day. Yesterday I was all about using the Italian chicken sausage with kale that was in the freezer. Tomorrow it could be an all-mushroom affair. The next day, maybe crabmeat. Again, the alliums can be whatever you have or prefer, leave out the pepper if you don’t have one (or use the awesome roasted ones from a jar that I love so very much), do homemade, gluten free or Japanese breadcrumbs...The choices are all yours! Yay!
So, go now and look in the fridge to see what you’ve got, and follow these basic steps.
Serves 2 as a main with a few salady sides (double or triple if you have a crowd!)
1 beautiful medium zucchini, or any other summer squash that you have. I used one that was around 8 inches long
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of ghee, EVOO, butter, or light oil
1 cup of any fresh mushroom, minced finely
A splash of leftover white wine (like 1/4 cup at the most)
1 medium shallot or other allium, minced (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon of minced red, yellow, or orange pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large link of sausage (your choice), out of the casing
1 teaspoon of anchovy paste
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
1/2 cup of panko (I used GF)
1/4 cup of Parmesan (or some other cheese that you like)
A handful of minced parsley and any other herb you love. I also used a little thyme in this one.
Preheat the oven to 350° (I used the convection bake setting). Cut the ends off of the squash, leaving a tiny bit of the stem. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, leaving enough flesh for a sturdy structure. Slice the thinnest, tiniest piece from the bottom of your boat, so that it will sit upright without tipping over. Save about 2 tablespoons of the flesh and chop it up. Salt the inside of your boat with the salt and turn upside down on a kitchen or paper towel for about 10 minutes, and then pat dry.
Heat the fat over a medium heat in a medium skillet, add the mushrooms and stir until they lose their liquid and start to brown a little. Throw in the splash of wine and let it cook down. Add the shallot, minced red pepper, and garlic and stir for a minute to soften. Crumble in the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into very small pieces. Sauté until it’s just cooked through and scrape everything into a bowl. Stir in the anchovy paste and vinegar and taste for salt and give a grind of pepper. When you are ready to bake, gently fold in the panko, cheese and herbs. Place on an oiled sheet pan and drizzle the top with a tiny bit of EVOO.
Bake for around 20-25 minutes, until browned and heated through. Serve hot or at room temperature. They reheat well too.