Sunday, May 9, 2010
Time to get your Veg On, readers! This recipe features the very under-rated and often villified zucchini. Why is there so little Zucchini Love on this planet?
True, if you try to consume a zucchini the size of a baseball bat (you know, the ones your co-workers bring to work in August when their garden is exploding and leave on the break room table accompanied by a note that says: Free!) you are going to get a tough, bitter result.
No, no, no. Those zucchini are Desperate Zucchini, and really, they're terrible. My parents have neighbors who, every year, grow the Exploding Zucchini Patch from Hell. These neighbors happily munch through ratatouille, zucchini bread and veggie lasagna all summer but by August, they're frantic to get rid of the suckers. They are tapped out. When late summer rolls around, my parents begin to hear the doorbell chime several times a week; when they open the door, they're greeted with a gi-normous bag of Desperate Zucchini. The neighbors aren't even there--they pull a veggie Ring-and-Run. Harrowing!
But little spring zucchini are a joy. Prepared correctly, they're light and delicate and delightful.
This recipe is an oldie but a goodie.
These stuffed tomatoes are hearty enough to make a lovely lunch, accompanied by a crusty baguette and a nice wedge of cheese. And if you have any sense at all, you'll pour a nice glass of wine to seal the deal.
This dish also makes an impressive side for grilled steaks or roast chicken, if you just can't bear a meal without meat (or, like me, you are having your carnivorous Daddy-O for lunch).
You can also vary the kinds of vegetables you use in the filling; if you're a green pepper hater, you can substitute mushrooms, or carrot, or corn, or anything, really.
So grab a few Un-desperate Zucchini and jump in!
6 medium tomatoes, seeded, juiced and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 lb. zucchini, finely chopped or grated
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese*
salt and pepper to taste
Core the tomatoes, remove seeds and flesh. Turn upside down and let excess moisture drain out onto paper towels.
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper; cook until softened. Add zucchini, garlic and oregano and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Remove from heat. Stir in basil, eggs, 2 tablespoons parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture evenly into tomatoes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake in a buttered baking dish at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.
* I know I rail about this all the time, but use the good stuff, people! Not the green stuff in the can, not the pre-shredded deli variety. Invest in a nice hunk of expensive Parmiggiano Reggiano and grate it on an as-needed basis. I swear to you, once you switch, you'll be stunned at the difference.