Oh hello there! Don’t mind me, still no produce production on my end. Luckily, I saw my brother this past weekend, and in true older brother fashion he took care of his favorite younger sister by sending me home with garden fresh green beans, onions, cucumbers, annnndddddd ZUCCHINI!! At least someone inherited my mom’s green thumb, ahem Zucchini, right next to Summer Squash, is one of my favorite summer vegetables. Often an unsung hero shredded into sweet bread, Zucchini is a mild tasting vegetable that pairs well with almost anything. Sautéed with onion, steamed in a grill packet, stirred into pasta, or STUFFED with filling, zucchini is the star of the show! In this week’s recipe, melted mozzarella oozes over a thick tomato-meat sauce stuffed inside of a hollowed out zucchini “boat”. The flavors bake together mimicking a lighter lasagna-inspired dinner that highlights all of zucchini’s best attributes and, to me, the best of summer produce. To make this dish, we have a couple of housekeeping tasks to start with.
- Preheat your oven to 375⁰F.
- Line a baking dish with tinfoil that has been lightly coated with nonstick spray.
Okay, once that’s finished, begin browning 1lb. of ground meat (I used Festival’s 50/50 Turkey/Beef Blend but any lean ground meat will work) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one medium-sized, chopped onion and a tablespoon of minced garlic. Brown until meat is cooked through. Next, add a can of diced tomatoes that have been seasoned with oregano, garlic, and basil with all but 2 Tbsp. of the liquid drained off. Let simmer. By the way, did you know that canned tomatoes have more lycopene, which is associated with reducing cancer risk, and more B vitamins than fresh tomatoes? Convenient and health benefits, I love it! Now, while the meat and tomato mixture is simmering, start to hollow out the zucchini. To do this, slice a washed, medium-sized zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the meat of the zucchini, leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch border on the edges. Place your freshly scooped out zucchini halves in the baking dish you prepared earlier, aligning them so they are scooped side up and cozy. Also, don’t toss that zucchini meat out! We’re going to chop it up and add it to the simmering tomato-meat sauce. Now, let’s get our seasoning on! To the skillet, add 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder, a few dashes of pepper (season to taste), and a 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese and stir, stir, stir. Let this mixture simmer together for about five more minutes, just to let the flavors really come together. Now, it is time to…… STUFF the zucchini boats! Evenly distribute the mixture throughout the zucchini boats and lightly sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake until the zucchini is easily pierced through with a fork, about 35 minutes. This dish reheats really well too, making it ideal for lunches and next-day dinner leftovers (always a bonus to me)! I hope you enjoy this summer-inspired dish. See you next week!
Lasagna Stuffed Zucchini
- 3-4 medium zucchini, washed
- 1 lb. Festival’s ground 50/50 blend (turkey/beef blend) or lean ground beef
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic, and basil, drained with 2 Tbsp. liquid reserved
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3/4-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- Pepper, to taste
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown turkey/beef blend with onion and garlic. Add diced tomatoes and 2 Tbsp. reserved liquid. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the zucchinis in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out inside “meat” of zucchini, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch border on the edges. Place zucchini halves inside a baking dish that has been lined with tin-foil and lightly coated with nonstick spray. Chop zucchini meat and add to the skillet.
- After 15-20 minutes, stir in grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and pepper. Let simmer an additional five minutes.
- Evenly divide filling among zucchini halves. Top with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 375⁰F until zucchini is easily pierced with a fork, about 35 minutes.
Jenny Dahl is a Registered Dietitian (RD) with Festival Foods and is certified by the state of WI.