Monday, August 9, 2010

Baked Zucchini Casserole

So a friend & frequenter of the blog, has a very cool garden at the bottom of a little hill in her backyard.  Apparently, it is the prime spot for zucchini and squash growing because it produced a whopper of a vegetable that was harvested last week. As a thank you for watching her pup, she saved this ginormous zucchini for me as long as I promised to write about what I made.  It was so bigger than an acorn squash! I got a little creative and decided to do that oh so fun trick of serving the finished product in the shell of the vegetable from which it was made. Take a look at the finished product:
Now, it was tasty, but it could have been better.  What I learned was that I should have prebaked the zucchini boats to soften them a little.  I did bake the finished product but it wasn't in long enough to really soften the veggie.  So, lesson learned.  Here's what I did do:

Sliced the veggie in half and scooped out the 'meat'.  This was diced along with 1 shallot, 10 grape tomatoes, 1 garlic clove and 2 handfuls of arugula.  In a sauté pan, I added about 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 6 small links of turkey sausage.  I browned the sausage over medium-hi heat until it was almost cooked through and then added the veggies to sauté.  For seasoning I added 1 palmful of fennel seed and a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Yumm. The veggies released a fair amount of liquid packed with flavor, so instead of draining, I added 1/4 cup of Italian flavored breadcrumbs and a handful of parmigianno reggiano. 
Next I drizzled the zucchini boats with olive oil and seasoned with S & P. I transferred the stuffing to the boats (divided equally between the two) and topped the boats with breadcrumbs, shredded mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano. 
It went into a casserole dish and into the oven for 15 minutes at 375° and came out toasty and delicious.  It was a complete meal for me but I also made a side dish of pasta drizzled with garlic infused olive oil and topped with a little more cheese for the man.  He was a happy camper and if he couldn't see the boats, he wouldn't have known he was eating a veggie-full meal.  He ate it up just the same though!

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