Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

We’ve been gone off and on all summer, enough that I decided not to mess with a summer garden. Part of me regrets it, as I love being able to walk into our backyard and pick fresh veggies and herbs nearly any day of July through October. However, we have good friends who grow gardens and are kind enough to share when possible. We’ve also got some tomatoes going, fresh basil, thyme, and oregano. And a kick-butt farmer’s market each week.

We received some large zucchini and I knew I wanted to try something different with them. As much as I love simple steamed or pan-fried zucchini, or baked zucchini fries, those are things I’ve made many times before. Time for something new. I almost made a zucchini parmesan, but I didn’t want to run to the grocery store to get things I didn’t have on hand. So the following recipe was a conglomeration of ingredients that were easy to scrounge up in my kitchen.

Some things can easily be substituted for other ingredients. For instance, if you don’t have vegetarian sausage on hand, sub in some black or pinto beans (canned are okay, just make sure you rinse them first). Fresh garlic instead of granulated can be used. No cheddar? Use what you do have. You can chop up the parts of the zucchini you scraped out and throw that in the filling, too!

Simply said, it’s versatile. And this recipe can easily be multiplied.

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ cup diced onion
¾ cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
1 large zucchini
½ cup cooked long grain rice (white or brown)
1 – 2 italian style tofurky sausage(s), chopped
½ tsp. granulated garlic
3 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced
¼ tsp. ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

+ an additional ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup panko style bread crumbs (Italian bread crumbs would work okay, too)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425º degrees F.

Cut off each end of the zucchini (about a ½-inch), then cut in half, lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds. Microwave the hollow halves for 2½ – 3 minutes, until they can be pierced easily with a fork. Set aside. (You can lightly salt and pepper each half, or sprinkle lightly with some garlic, cumin, cayenne, etc. at this point, too, for a little more flavor.)

In a saucepan, heat about 1 tsp. olive oil on med-high heat. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add in the chopped sausage, cooking until lightly browned. Add in the corn, rice, garlic, basil, cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and remove from heat. Mix in the ½ cup of cheddar cheese.

Spoon the mixture into each zucchini — it’s okay to pile it high. Press it down into the zucchini, until it’s packed nicely.

In a small bowl, toss together the panko bread crumbs and ½ cup cheddar cheese. Top each filled zucchini with the panko/cheddar mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is nicely browned.

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