Doing One Last Zucchini Dance
From the desk of Let’s Make the Most of Summer Produce Before It Disappears into the Winter Sunset:
Zucchini is still in the house! Mother Nature’s clock is ticking, but there’s still a wee bit of time to have your way with La Zuke in the kitchen. As veteran summer squash gardeners already know, zucchini is a prolific little bugger, which means never having enough friends -- or zucchini recipes.
Have I got a goodie for you. For years, I’ve been hollowing out zucchini halves into boats and stuffing them with herbs, tomatoes and breadcrumbs, but this one, with Calabrian origins, is rich with ricotta (if you can, get some fresh stuff -- it really makes a difference). Fresh tomatoes get some time in a sauté pan with onions and garlic, and when cooled, the sweet mixture gets folded into the ricotta, enriched with pecorino, egg yolks and fresh herbs. The take-home flavor for me was the mint dancing from cheese to zuke, and baby, it was sublime. I’ll be making these again before it’s too late.
Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta
From the September 2008 issue of Saveur
6 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
2 cups homemade or store bought ricotta
¾ cup grated pecorino
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 teaspoons dried mint, crumbled (KOD note: I used fresh mint, with dreamy results!)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (KOD note: I substituted fresh basil that needed to be used)
2 egg yolks, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
(KOD note: I halved amounts for three servings without a hitch)
Using a small spoon, scoop out and discard pulp from each zucchini half, leaving a 1/4 inch rim around the edges. Heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about six minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft about four minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, ¼ cup of the pecorino, ¼ cup of brad crumbs, parsley, mint, oregano and egg yolks. Fold in onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Set filling aside.
Arrange an oven rack about seven inches from broiler element and heat. Rub insides of zucchini with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season lightly with salt. Place zucchini cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for five minutes.
Remove baking sheet from oven and fill each zucchini half with enough of the ricotta mixture that it mounds slightly but doesn’t spill over the edges of the zucchini. Sprinkle each stuffed zucchini with remaining pecorino and bread crumbs and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
Broil until zucchini are soft and tops are lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.
Makes six servings.
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