We used to have a nice little garden in our first home back in Washington, PA. We grew zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli and pumpkins, but the zucchini was by far the most prolific. As a result, on many a summer night we ate heavenly fresh zucchini from the garden. And this is how we ate it; stuffed with sausage flavored with onion, pepper and garlic and topped with cheese. There’s no better way to eat your way through summer. I especially enjoy this dish when the zucchini is cooked al dente or still a little firm.
It’s that easy: You will never know what you are missing if you’ve never eaten really fresh local zucchini, but once you’ve had it you can never go back. Fresh picked zucchini just drips with juice as soon as you cut it. The skin is smooth and taut and if you look at the stem it might still be moist. That, my friend, is a fresh zucchini and the taste is truly amazing. Look for fresh local produce in your local Heinen’s.
Summer Zucchini Boats with Sausage
Start to finish: 1 hour
Hands on time: 30 minutes
Makes 6 pieces serving 4 to 6
- 3 medium zucchini, about 7-inches long
- Salt for sprinkling plus 1/4 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
- One 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/2 cup Parmesan
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut zucchini lengthwise in half. Using a spoon or melon baller, scrape out and chop the seeds and flesh, leaving about 1⁄4-inch shell. Arrange the zucchini boats in a 9 by 13-inch pan, cut sides up and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet on medium-high. When the oil shimmers, add the chopped zucchini, onion, red pepper, garlic, sausage, tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper Cook about 5 minutes, breaking the sausage up as it cooks. It may get a little soupy. Cook until most of the liquid has cooked off. Stir in the Parmesan and panko. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if it needs it.
Spoon the sausage mixture into the shells and top with a scattering of the mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes to crisp up the cheese. Serve hot.