Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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From www.foodfanatic.com, by Nora Rušev
Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats Photo

I’d be lying if I told you it’s always fun to cook with farm-fresh produce. Spending entire summers in the countryside with my grandparents I was sure to be exclusively fed zucchini, corn and blueberries for weeks on end.

I didn’t mind the blueberries so much. But the zucchini? Unless it was pickled I got bored after approximately two and a half days.

And yes, I was the kid who ate pickled zucchini straight out of the jar. Don’t judge. Please.

I’ll be the first to admit that even now as an adult, I still get bored with eating the same foods over and over again. Sure, you can freeze your zucchini. But do you really want to eat zucchini all winter long?

And there’s only so many zucchini muffins you can bake in any given summer. Trust me on this one. Even the chocolate won’t help anymore after batch number eleven.

The good news is that today I’m telling you about a genius way to use up more than one cup shredded zucchini at a time. In fact, you’ll be force-feeding lovingly serving an entire zucchini to every single family member.

I’ll let you do the math for a minute there. It’s kind of wonderful.

But not only is it wonderful, it’s also tasty. So tasty that nobody will ever have a chance to complain about all that zucchini they have to eat. If you’re lucky.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats Picture

These Italian sausage stuffed zucchini boats are not hard to make, but the recipe is still a little more involved. Something you want to make on the weekend, when you can delegate the kids to your husband and don’t need to worry about the toddler sticking her hand into the piping hot sauce. Seriously, that kid smells sausage from ten miles away.

The zucchinis need to be halved, scooped and blanched. That fancy word means nothing more than quickly boiling them. But we can all use a little more glitz and glam in this messy chaos called life, right?

The sauce is very simple to put together, and it’s even tastier because it’s made with fresh tomatoes. If we’re going to take advantage of all the summer produce available - let’s make it count.

And side note: Don’t leave the sauce unattended. No, it will not boil over and stain your entire kitchen. But it might mysteriously disappear, depending on how many spoonfuls of "oh, I just quickly want to taste this" your beloved family members manage to sneak in.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats Image

So guard it like a hen her eggs, because you want those zucchini boats as stuffed as possible. A sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top, a short bake in the oven and you have a fantastic Sunday family dinner. We like to serve these sausage stuffed zucchini boats with a simple side of rice or a slice of rustic bread.

And you can feel good about it too: Not only did you use up four entire zucchinis (or more, depending on how many mouths you have to feed, the recipe easily doubles) and a bunch of tomatoes, but it also tastes a little bit like lasagna. It’s full of healthy vegetables. It will convince your husband and kids to do the dishes.

OK, I can’t guarantee that last one. But it’s always worth a try, right?

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Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini squashes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine, if you don’t want to use wine, you can substitute any stock you have on hand
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon italian herb seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 ounces finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Prepare the Zucchini:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Set up an oven rack over a kitchen towel (you will need this to cool the blanched zucchini).
  2. In the meantime, carefully halve the zucchini lengthwise - this works best with a long knife. Scoop out the flesh, chop it roughly and set it aside. Make sure you leave the zucchini walls at about 1/4 of an inch, so there’s enough room for the filling but they still keep their shape.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the zucchini halves and cook them for one minute.
  4. Drain them immediately and place them, cut side down, on the oven rack.

Make the Filling:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown it for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped zucchini flesh and cook for about 10 minutes, or until it doesn’t look watery anymore. (This depends on your zucchini - especially ones on the larger side will have more water in them.)
  3. Once everything is starting to look nicely browned, stir in the tomato paste. Roast it for a minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the red wine (or stock; careful, this might splatter!), stir in the tomatoes and season with Italian herbs, salt and pepper.
  4. Cook on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has a nice thick consistency.
  5. Check for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.

Finish the Dish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Arrange the blanched zucchini halves in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Spoon the filling into the zucchini. It might seem like too much - but you can really stuff it all in there.
  4. Sprinkle the stuffed zucchini with parmesan cheese and mozzarella, then bake on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

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