Monday, September 7, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini and Raspberries Raspberries Raspberries!

I got two beautiful spherical zucchinis from my parents a few weeks ago. They said that they had been sautéing them with onions and green peppers and having them as a side dish, but that my sister's boyfriend, Jason, a wonderful gardener and originator of the mint margarita, said they were great stuffed. So, I decided to stuff them. Just now I looked online to attempt identification and I believe that they are round zucchini, but don't quote me on that. I've never seen them in the grocery store before, or did, and thought that they were winter squash of some sort. They were about 6 inches in diameter and 4 or 5 inches tall with very dark green skin.

I opted to follow my nose on this, and not get any ideas from cookbooks. Luckily, I had two zucchinis so while the first was pretty good, the second was delicious, thanks to additions Dave and I came up with. I will note variations within the recipe. In general, like so many other recipes Keja and I create and share with you, being willing to be creative will make for your own unique, and hopefully satisfying dish.

Stuffed Zucchini

This feeds two quite hungry adults or two adults and two small children. The first time I did the first part of each OR and the second I did the second part, but feel free to mix and match or add your own. The first was light, the second much heartier.

4 TBS olive oil, separated in half

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 lb. ground turkey (preferably dark meat) OR ground beef

3 fennel bulbs, white part only, sliced thin, ~ 1 cup and 1/2 cup green pepper, diced OR 1/2 cup black beans and 1/2 cup cooked corn

1/2 teas. garlic powder

dash cayenne pepper

1/2 teas. oregano

1/2 teas. black pepper

1 teas. salt

1 TBS sliced basil

Optional spice additions (I highly recommend them and used them the second time):

2 TBS minced fresh sage

1/2 teas. curry powder

8 oz. mozzarella, grated

1/2 cup bread crumbs

In a large frying pan heat 2 TBS oil and sauté onion and garlic for a few minutes until fragrant.

Add ground meat and cook, breaking apart with a spatula, until mostly browned, approximately 5 minutes.

Add fennel and green peppers (or black beans and corn) and stir in, cooking for 3 or 4 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To mix in pan add garlic powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, black pepper, salt and basil. Add sage and curry powder if you choose. Stir well and turn off heat.

Cut zucchini in half horizontally (if it's sitting on it's bottom with the stem end pointing up). Cut the stem end and rough bottom end off, just enough to remove rough parts but still leaving plenty of flesh. Scoop out seeds and discard. Place two halves in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet.

Stir cheese into mixture in pan. Stuff each zucchini with the half of the mixture, mounding any extra on top. Sprinkle half of the bread crumbs on each and drizzle with remaining 2 TBS olive oil.

Bake for 1 hour.

I found that on one zucchini the skin was easily chewable and on the other not at all. That could be the difference one being eaten a week after the other.

This past week I took the kids raspberry picking twice. We found this amazing place in Winchester, MA, recommended by a friend. It's owned by the town and is organic. It's a lovely spot and the raspberries are fantastic. Also, very affordable. I got 6 lbs. for $33. Compare that to buying organic in the grocery store and at best you'll get the same amount for $50 or so, and that's when they're on sale. And from California. We brought them home and froze most of them, using the freeze-on-tray method, then putting them into freezer bags once frozen. We kept some out for immediate eating but they were so ripe that by the next morning they were growing mold, despite being refrigerated.