Sunday, July 31, 2011

Zucchini: A Victim to Supply Verses Demand

It's that time of year: ZUCCHINI!  I love zucchini and love to eat it in all sorts of things (despite my husband's objections).  If you don't have an appetite for zucchini, perhaps this definition from Wikipedia will get your taste buds warmed up:  In a culinary context, zucchini is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. YUM, right?

Seriously, this veggie is just so darn cheap and easy (my favorite kind of anything) it is hard to pass up.  I have a friend who growing up would say, "Nobody likes zucchini, that's why they hide it, stuff it, shred it in all sorts of stupid baked goods".  The zucchini is often a victim to an economic principle: supply verses demand.  Inevitable, gardeners each year find themselves with more zucchini than they could possible eat  or hide in other foods (like breads, muffins, pancakes, etc).  This is where I come to the rescue.  I'll take your free zucchini any day of the week.  Because this veggie is often discarded by so many gardeners (due to abundance), I don't see a need to grow it in my own garden.  By definition that might make me a mooch.  I don't care.      

My favorite way to eat this swollen ovary is by chopping it up and frying it in a pan with LOTS of butter and Lots of salt but to give my husbands eyes a break from rolling at the thought of eating more zucchini, I thought I'd try a new recipe that highlights (instead of hides) this yummy rejected veggie.

Hence this delicious dish: Stuffed Zucchini.  You can go online and find plenty of versions out there, I combined ingredients from several recipes  to come up with my own variation that has both meet and potatoes in it (I only saw versions that had one or the other, not both).

8 medium zucchinis, split in half with guts removed.  (be sure to grab only straight ones for this dish)
1 lb ground hamburger (I like sirloin)
1/2 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb potatoes, diced (I used red potatoes and left the skin on)
1 lb tomatoes, diced (I used 4 romas)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 cups grated cheese (I used mozzarella)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Place the cut zucchinis on a baking sheet, brush insides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down in a 400 degree preheated oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes.  While the zucchini is baking, cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces and place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, place in the oven with the zucchinis, bake for approximately 15 minutes.

In a frying pan, cook the ground hamburger.  Once cooked, add the onion, cook till tender.  Add garlic, cook for approximately 1 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, cook for a couple minutes or until tomatoes are heated through and incorporated into the meat mixture.  Turn off heat from stove.  Once the potatoes are cooked, mix them into the meat mixture.  Flip the zucchini over and fill the meat mixture into the zucchini boats.  Top with cheese.  Place in the oven till cheese is melted, approximately 5 minutes.

Take the veggies out of the oven, top with the chopped basil and enjoy.

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