Today I left work earlier and was able to spend time on cooking! Yay! Finally!
I shouldn’t be so irrationally giddy about this, I’m sure… but who could resist when the end product looks like this?
Stuffed zucchini have a reputation for being the “Help, it’s harvest time and my garden is full of giant zucchini!” food. But they’re so delicious! I don’t have a garden but when I am offered a huge, gardenfresh zucchini I never say no. And those ball-shaped zucchini from the organic supermarket were just too cute to resist!
The recipe tonight is for a healthy vegetarian stuffing with brown rice risotto, the zucchini scrapes and feta cheese. I have before made a pescetarian variant mixing in a can of tuna with the rice, and of course if you’re a meateater nothing keeps you from adding ground meat either. But the feta cheese tastes incredibly fresh and lovely! I recommend trying it.
First, the zucchini are hollowed out. I always just use a spoon with sharp edges for it and scrape out the flesh. Keep the scrapes – we’re going to use them right away!
Since I was hungry and didn’t feel like waiting later on, I poured some boiling saltwater in and around the zucchini and let them soak for about 5 minutes so the shells would be pre-cooked.
(I apologize in advance for this and the following photos – my stove is messy. I’m an incredibly messy cook. =.=;)
Then I chopped a red onion, some garlic, chili and parsley (psst: I cheated and used frozen pre-chopped parsley) and fried it with salt and pepper in some butter and olive oil.
I had decided to vary my recipe a little today and make a risotto instead of mixing the ingredients with precooked rice. That way, I also get to demonstrate my risotto-cooking strategy. If you like your vegetables a little more al dente though, use the mixing strategy as the boiling time of the risotto will certainly mush the zucchini.
When the onions are glassy, add the rice (this is about 1 cup – enough to fill both zucchini in the end) and fry a little more so the rice becomes slightly translucent. I used brown rice though, which won’t become translucent, just covered in oil :) Then add vegetable broth.
Add just enough broth to cover the rice, put on the lid and let it boil on medium heat. Add little amounts of broth until the rice is cooked through. Try to avoid stirring too much.
While the risotto was cooking merrily away, I set out to crumble cheese. See the holy trinity of cheese in the picture? I must’ve been a Frenchwoman in a previous life…
I crumbled a little less than a packet of Feta here, using just a fork and making irregularly-sized crumbles and chunks that are big enough to stay in one piece when stuffing the zucchini. There is also yellow cheese (e.g. Mozarella or baking cheese) and parmesan for gratinating (or “cheese crusting”!).
Note to self: If you snack too much on the cheese before stuffing the zucchini, you won’t have enough. *wiggles finger*
The feta gets mixed in with the risotto when it is done. I also added a few last-minute fresh herbs – thyme and basil – because those taste best if they haven’t been cooked a lot before being eaten.
Then the mixture is filled into the zucchini cups, and the yellow cheese is sprinkled on top. Add a little crushed tomatoes spiced up with french herbs around it (if I had found a smaller pan I could’ve filled it up to the top) and off in the oven they go for some baking!
And here they are baked.
PS: I bought four? The other two are going to be experimented with soon. I heard Quinoa or couscous stuffing is especially good!