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.

Zucchini getting some time with ricotta and herbs. (Kim O'Donnel)

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.

By Kim ODonnel |  September 11, 2008; 11:30 AM ET Dinner Tonight , Seasonal Produce , Vegetarian/Vegan
Previous: Cooking Up a Wedding Registry | Next: Hurry Up and Get Canning!


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Where would one buy fresh ricotta in the DC area? Sorry if this is a silly question, but I never even knew that existed. Thanks!

Posted by: Novice Chef | September 11, 2008 12:53 PM

You have to cook the zucchini first, right?

Posted by: Poundy | September 11, 2008 1:24 PM

Whole Foods Market carries it.

Posted by: Love to Cook | September 11, 2008 4:06 PM

LaZuke? It's zucchini. Why make up these names?

Posted by: barknot | September 11, 2008 4:31 PM

Poundy--you broil the zucchini for 5 minutes first, which should get it started. I didn't see that the first time I read through it either.

I'm going to try this with one of the huge zucchini's my step-mom gave me, but instead of stuffing them I'm going to slice and try it more like a strata. Of course, if it doesn't turn out, I'll still blame the recipe, even though I've totally changed it--ha ha.

I'm going down to deLaurenti (in Pike Place Market) for the Ricotta. I assume you've already been there, Kim? It's heavenly, but only bring what you can afford to spend.....

Posted by: seattlecookingmom | September 12, 2008 4:25 PM

I don't know what kind of zucchini you're buying, Kim, but the two medium zucchinis I bought were about 1 1/2 pounds. They'd have to be tiny to get 6 to add up to 2 pounds. I made about 2/3 of the filling for the two zucchinis, but probably should have made half. I broiled the remaining filling in a little metal dish next to the zucchinis. The topping got a bit more black than the golden brown I was expecting, but the result was really delicious. They were great on the side of some pasta with pesto (to use up some of the basil in the garden before our first frost comes).

Posted by: Upstate, NY | September 15, 2008 12:09 PM

Seattlecookingmom, did you try it as a strata yet? How did it turn out?

Posted by: Central Mass | September 16, 2008 3:50 PM

fyi, you don't really want your zukes to be super huge - smaller is more tender and less seeds as well. if you are lucky enough to grow your own, don't allow them to get huge. i am going to make this tonight and i am going to add a bit of lemon zest to the filling as i think the brightness will complement this perfectly! Thanks for the recipe!!
ps i think LaZuke is a darling way to refer to zukes!!

Posted by: carolina paul | September 18, 2008 11:23 AM

How about the pecorino cheese? is that readily available in supermarkets? or only a specialty like Whole Foods?

Posted by: christine | September 18, 2008 11:40 AM

I love this idea..I have Kuta squash in my garden and still going strong. I am going to try it with that one, which is similar..

The only thing I miss in the recipe is the nutritional analysis..would be helpful to us Weight Watcher Types..

Posted by: Ella | September 18, 2008 1:28 PM

Never would I scoop out the center of a zucchini and discard!!!! Saute it to put into soup, on a pizza, with other vegies or whatever but don't discard!!!!!

Posted by: Grammie | September 18, 2008 10:06 PM

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