If you garden in the Maritime Pacific Northwest, you probably plant Zucchini every year. And every year you just might be tempted to try different varieties and every year you may end up with more than one zucchini plant and every year you might forget just how much zucchini one plant will produce and you may forget that the big leaves can hide those zucchini from you until you finally notice the bulging beast lurking on top of the soil.
Or, maybe that’s just me.
Whatever the case, someone you know must be growing the stuff and has too much to handle. Something has to be done with them. And aside from drying, freezing, baking them into cinnamon scented butter soft bread, or moist chocolate brownie heaven, or diced into bite size pieces and bathed in olive oil then slow roasted with garlic, herbs, tomatoes, a Chile pepper, onions and flake salt so that the luscious aroma infuses the house and wafts out the windows and open doors into the garden bed you’re tending, there must be other things one can do!
My grandmother worked magic with zucchini. Whether sautéing slices with a little hamburger or maybe a little egg, her creations were always perfectly executed; no mush and sooo much flavor.
On my birthday, in honor of my grandmamas creative zucchini efforts. I stuffed a big one with sausage and such and plopped it on the grill to cook. It was delicious and I think you need to try using zucchini as a vessel for stuffing in this way too. So I’ll share my idea, or recipe as some people call it, with you.
Zucchini As A Vessel: Sausage Boat
Slice a large Zucchini in half lengthwise. With a melon baller scoop out the soft seedy flesh.
Place these Zucchini “Boats” side by side on a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil or on a cookie sheet you don’t mind getting funky from the grill experience (this can totally be done in the oven, on a baking sheet, uncovered.)
Drizzle the boats with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle the boats with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Start heating up a skillet on medium high.
Dice up an onion, or a few shallots or whatever you got.
Smoosh a few garlic cloves and remove the peel
Drizzle your hot pan with a little olive oil
Toss in the onion and garlic; push around the pan for a bit, until they start to give a little, you know become tender and translucent
Crumble a pound of Italian pork sausage into the pan along with your pungent allium duo.
Cook until the sausage is crumbly and brown (sometimes I use a potato masher to smash the sausage into submission otherwise I end up with huge chunks of sausage)
Turn off heat
Grind or shake a 1/2 teaspoon or so of nutmeg onto the sausage mixture. Mix in, then taste for seasoning (some sausage is sooo salty!) if needed, add a little more pepper and salt
Now add 1/2-1cup fine bread crumbs
Add 1-2 cups torn mozzarella
Stir everything together.
Mound into the zucchini boats. If you have extra sausage mixture, great! Freeze for next time or toss with a hot pasta or add to tomato sauce or roll with eggplant or……
Grate Parmesan over the top until you feel satisfied. I like to use the large shred size of my grater and I like to be able to see the sausage mixture through the cheese, so I don’t coat the whole boat 😉.
Now, place on a hot grill (temp 450-500 Fahrenheit) and let cook until the boats seem just fork tender and the cheese is melted. If the bottom chars just a little that’s ok, it adds flavor! Every zucchini is going to need a different cooking time due to moisture levels, thickness etc.
Remove from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Carefully remove the boats from the pan or foil, it may fall apart but if your lucky, it will stay together and you can serve it in big slices. Yum!
(Pssst. Put all of your peels in a container in the freezer so you can use them for veggie broth. Do the same for the inside of the zucchini)