Stuffed Zucchinis

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In the late summer and early fall as the last heat delivers a final wallop, beefy little round zucchinis show up in stalls at the farmers markets. They’re cute. I love miniature anything, and they look like miniature gourds to me. I’ve noticed a fancy recipe for stuffed zucchini in Alain Ducasse’s Flavors of France cookbook, but decide to do something simpler and use the stuffed bell peppers my mother made every Tuesday as inspiration.
Stuffed Zucchinis
Ingredients
Serves 2 for dinner or 4 as a first course
4 round zucchinis
¼ lb. ground beef
¼ lb. Italian sausage, peeled and crumbled
½ cup Romano cheese, grated finely
2 cloves garlic minced
1 onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
¼ cup sun-dried tomato (reconstituted, save the water), diced
1 tbls. tomato paste, diluted with 2 tbls. water
2 tbls. parsley, minced
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tbl. butter
1 tbl. olive oil
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Preparation
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut a thin slice off the tops of the round zucchini and discard the top. Using a small spoon, scrape out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick wall. Season the interior of the zucchinis with salt and pepper and place them on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil and cook for 20 minutes. Let cool.

Coarsely chop the zucchini flesh and squeeze dry. Dice the pulp with the onion, tomato and garlic. Heat the butter and oil together in a medium sauté pan and sauté the vegetables until they are lightly browned. Remove the vegetables to a bowl. Add the ground beef and crumbled sausage to the pan and sauté until thoroughly cooked. Drain any excess fat. Return the vegetables to the pan and add the sun-dried tomatoes, diluted tomato paste, parsley and ¼ cup of the Romano cheese until well combined.
Stuff the zucchinis with the mixture, mounding them above the tops. Combine the rest of the Romano cheese and breadcrumbs and pack on top of the zucchinis. Place them in a decorative ceramic casserole dish and fill the bottom with the reserved sun-dried tomato water. Drizzle the zucchinis with a bit of olive oil. Cook at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Check the zucchinis 15 minutes into the cooking time to make sure the bread topping isn’t getting burned. Cover with aluminum foil if the tops are turning too dark. If the zucchini are large, they’ll require more time to cook, up to an hour depending on how big they are. Use a toothpick and pierce them every 15 minutes to see if they’re soft enough to eat.
Tips and Tidbits
I served this with some garlic toast and a crisp, green salad. It also makes an elegant and impressive first course for a dinner party.
This dish and can easily be adapted to a vegetarian version. Omit the meat and add the equivalent amount of zucchini and/or eggplant.
Maggie Canon
Maggie Canon is a nationally recognized magazine, website and book editor. She founded InfoWorld magazine and was the editor in chief of several other leading technology publications. She has since focused her career on consumer content including developing and launching the leading lifestyle website Glam.com and producing the best-selling book series America 24/7.

In addition, she was the co-host of HGTV's 21st Century Home television series. She is an avid traveler, cook and entertainer.
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