Thursday, August 19, 2010

Don't swap the zucchini

Our CSA has come up with the wonderful idea of a swap box - after you pick up your share you can leave off things you really don't in exchange for someone else's discards.  Recently, there has been more and more zucchini in that box.  That's probably because while many other things come and go pretty quickly at the CSA (we had two or three weeks of onions, potatoes, kale), the zucchini just keeps on coming.  New to me this year, though, is the variety: alongside the long dark green zucchini and slightly bell-shaped yellow summer squash are beautiful light green bell-shaped ones, and perfectly darling two-fist-sized dark green balls.  I've been happily hiding away my loads of them in tomato sauce, but the beautiful variety of shapes really calls out for stuffing.  And it helps that stuffed zucchini offers up a filling that little ones just adore (they avoid the outside and without knowing it gobble up all of the zucchini in the middle).

STUFFED ZUCCHINI
Serves 4

4 medium zucchini (the round ones are my new favorite to stuff, but for the best presentation, use a variety of shapes and colors)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 can tomato paste (or, 1/2 cup blended roasted tomatoes)
1/4 cup water
leaves from 1 large sprig oregano
1/3 cup rice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350.  Saute the onion in olive oil until just soft.  Add the garlic and saute until the onion is translucent.  Meanwhile, scoop out the insides from the zucchini, leaving just enough shell to hold its shape.  Set the zucchini shells into a baking pan.  Chop up the zucchini insides.  Remove the onion and garlic and set aside.  Saute the ground beef until brown.  Add  back in the garlic and onion, zucchini, tomato paste, water, rice, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and cook, low, for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and stir parmesan.  Scoop the stuffing into the zucchini shells, making as high a hill as can hold itself together in each shell.  If there are any leftovers, you can bake them in a ramekin.  Bake 30 minutes. 

Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or bread (there will be yummy sauce you'll want to sop up with something) and salad.