Monday, July 6, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini

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If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard garden, you know what happens around this time of year. Those lovely yellow flowers on your zucchini plants give way to wee green veggies that morph into monstrous logs practically overnight. If you don’t pick them while they’re still small, zucchini can be bitter and unpleasant to eat. Right now, they’re coming in faster than Michael Jackson memorials,  so here’s a great way to prepare them. You can even freeze these and cook them later, when zucchini is not so plentiful.

Start out with small to average-size zucchini.  The ones I used were probably about six inches long and rather plump. If you’ve got a surplus of zucchini flowers, there are plenty of delicious ways to cook them, including my favorite – stuffed with mozzarella, batter-dipped and fried -  which I blogged about here.

In case you didn’t know, there are female and male zucchini flowers, both of which are edible. The male flower (in all these photos) is easily distinguishable since its stem emanates directly from the base of the zucchini plant. It will never become a zucchini. The female flower, on the other hand, attaches itself to the baby zucchini that will later emerge.

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Trim the stems off and boil the whole zucchini in water for five minutes. Drain and cut in half. Scoop out the insides, except for a small perimeter around the edge. I run a small paring knife around the outside, score the insides, then scoop it out with a grapefruit spoon. Set these pieces aside. Don’t worry, the insides will still be quite hard and uncooked. That’s fine. The outside edge will feel slightly cooked.

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Now here’s the recipe for the stuffing, and you can change it up however you like, depending on what you’ve got on hand and what flavors you like. I used brown rice because I had some left over, but you could easily substitute white rice or bread crumbs if you prefer, or tomatoes or mushrooms instead of red pepper. This version is vegetarian, but you can add ground meat or sausage if that floats your boat.

Baked Stuffed Zucchini

4 average size zucchini

2 T. olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced

the interior of the zucchini you scooped out and minced

salt, pepper to taste

1 cup cooked brown rice and cooled

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 or 3 T. minced parsley

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

more parmesan cheese for the top

  1. Saute the following in olive oil until wilted: the shallot, garlic, red pepper and zucchini bits you scooped out and chopped.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove from heat and add the rice, egg, parsley, parmesan and mozzarella.

Stuff the mixture into the zucchini with a spoon and place in a greased oven-proof casserole.

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Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.

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Bake uncovered at a high temperature – 425 degrees – for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and crusty on top.

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For another version of stuffed zucchini - shown below - using ricotta cheese as the base and the spherical variety of zucchini, click here.


And here are a couple of other zucchini ideas:

Zucchini "carpaccio”[zucchini+carpaccio.jpg]

and an old favorite, ratatouille:




  1. I have some zucchinis just waiting to be stuffed!
    Can I put a little sausage in the filling for Henry?

  2. These look so delicious! I have zucchini growing in my garden... this will be a delicious way to use them!

  3. I love stuffed zucchini but I never did it with rice. I'm definitely going to try it! I hope my mom has some zucchini in her garden to share with me!

  4. I love stuffed zucchiis, light and easy to do, great for the summer :)

  5. Yum...that looks delicious. Please send some my way!

  6. What a great sounding recipe for stuffed zuchinni! I am totally bookmarking this one! Such great ingredients!

  7. This looks delicious. thanks for explaining the whole male-female thing. Very informative.

  8. nice! I was thinking about making stuffed peppers later this week, but I'm going to give this a try instead. Thanks for the lovely recipe!

  9. I haven't tried this but it looks really gorgeous and yummy..

  10. I'm so excited about all your recipes for zucchini, I'm starting to get the flowers on mine, and I'm dying to try them stuffed. I would have never known there was a male and female, I learned something new today!! Love the ricotta stuffed one, definitely on my to make list! Thank you!

  11. Many Italians also love to fry the flowers in batter - super! And they add flowers to their minestrone!

  12. Our zucchini plants are in the hands of house-renters while we travel around the West the first half of the summer. Hope to return home to a bumper crop and try your recipe!

  13. I love stuffed zucchini and blossoms. I usually find blossoms for sale at the farmers' market early in the summer, but I missed them this year. I'll have plenty of zucchini to choose from though!

  14. Wow, these stuffed zucchini look just so the step-by-step pictures.

  15. I love stuffed zucchini and yours look amazing!

  16. I love zukes and us Greeks make the stuffing with mince meat, rice, herbs and serve with Avgolemono. I think I'll make a carpaccio...haven't had one of those in awhile.

  17. I have been wanting to try making some stuffed zucchini. This sounds like a wonderful way to do it.

  18. Just wanted to say....this looks incredible. I'm going to be trying this recipe in the very near future. (is it Saturday yet?)

  19. Oh wow, I adore stuffed zucchini and I can't wait for my zucchini in the garden to get bigger. Gorgeous photos!

  20. I love all the versions you link in this post. Learned something new about zucchini today too, thanks Linda.

  21. Just visiting your site for the first time -- I love your photos and recipes! I also left the states rather recently to pursue my passions in Italy: traveling, cooking, eating, and writing and taking photos along the way! I've been documenting my journey at Hope you'll stop by, I look forward to more recipes like these yummy zucchini!

  22. So, how do you make the ratatoulli stuffed zucchinis, do you just put the ratatoulli in before you bake, or after?
    Please tell meeee!!!!