Stuffed ZucchiniPosted: 17 September 2011
Summer and even early fall are a time for eating ripe tomatoes straight out of your garden. If we’re very, very lucky, we have so many tomatoes that we honestly don’t know what to do with them all. Last week I made salsa. This week I made stuffed zucchini. I’ve made this dish twice now and I think it has earned a place on the permanent rotation. It’s easy, cheap, and screams summer. As I sit worrying about frost and gardening death it puts a smile on my face, just knowing that the heart of this dinner was fresh out of my garden. All of the tomatoes came from my own garden. The zucchini came from Mom and Dad’s garden.
One of my most beloved summer lunches/snacks/meals is toasted tomato/cheese sandwiches. This dinner is a nod to the glorious nature that is the perfecting blending of melted cheese and fresh, juicy tomatoes. Stuffing the whole shebang into a zucchini is a great way to use cherry tomatoes when you have an over-abundance. The pictures you see here use whole-wheat bread crumbs which are okay, but not my favorite for this. They tend to resist the juices and don’t get soft enough. If you use whole wheat, add a 1/4 cup of water to the stuffing mixture. You want the stuffing to be soft and squishy before you bake it, not dry and crumbly. You can use any cheese you want.
The pictures make it look like it’s going to taste a bit like pizza but it doesn’t. It’s that fresh tomato taste that stars in this show. No zesty pizza herbs and spices necessary. Save those for winter when you’ll have to get your tomatoes out of a can.
30-50 small cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 small can of very low sodium tuna (optional)
Heat the oven to 400º. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seed of the zucchini like you would a pumpkin. Use the spoon to scrap the zucchini into a ‘boat’. Discard the seeds and scrapings, or if you’re crafty, save them for something else.
Place the zucchini face down on the oven rack for 20 minutes. While it cooks, prepare the filling.
In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, breadcrumbs, and 1/3 of the cheese. Stir together until well mixed. If you want, add the tuna now as well. The tuna isn’t really necessary, but is nice if you’re looking to add some protein. It balances well with the tomatoes and doesn’t overwhelm the flavor at all.
If the mixture is looking a bit dry, add a few tablespoons of water. It should easily form a ball in your hand.
Remove the zucchini from the oven using tongs. Place them right-side-up in a 9×13 baking dish. Spoon the mixture into the boats, pressing it into place and creating a flat top.
Top each stuffed zucchini half with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the mixture is hot throughout.
Serve with chopped pineapple and relish the last few days of summer.