Sunday, May 9, 2010

Veg-Head Monday: Zucchini Stuffed Tomatoes

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!

Zucchini-Stuffed Tomatoes

serves 6

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.


  1. Oh my goodness. This brought back memories of last year when we were house-sitting for my Dad. I went down the bottom of the garden and was like "Wow, those are some marrows, they're enormous" at which point the boyfriend pointed out they were courgettes (you call them zuchinis, I call them courgettes, let's call the whole thing off).

    For about a couple of months after that every time we went round there we were served up some unimaginative courgette-related dish. It was a dark dark period in my life. I might just post this recipe through his door next time I'm passing...

  2. That is a classic, I do remember zucchini season- living in Virginia our neighbours use to knock and run, there was always an abundance of zucchini and tomatoes left on the door step so this is perfect, why aren't I there now?

  3. They are called courgettes in England (the small ones) and they are EXPENSIVE compared to how dead easy they are to grow! I agree the small ones are much nicer, and I love roasting them. None the less, Bill isn't as nice to my zucchini plants as he is to the bean plants. Then again, I make spice cake with old fruit, not with zucchini as the original recipe calls for. If you get stuck with baseball bats, shred the things and freeze for making spice cake:

  4. I'm ashamed to admit this but I think I might be a zucchini virgin.

  5. Desperate zucchini and veggie ring-and-run. HAHA

    this looks yummy. wonder if the kids will eat it

  6. I have never, ever had a stuffed tomato. Is that weird? Hubs hates tomotaos....with zucchini coming in at a close second. Personally I like both.

    And where do you get those hilarious cartoons??

  7. Yum! Can't wait to try.... I'm slowly getting hubby on board with veggies....

  8. These sound so good! And I agree about the fresh parmesian cheese.

  9. I love stuffed tomatoes. I'll need to keep this on hand for when our zucchini plants start throwing off produce! I think I over planted and may become a veggie ring and run perp this summer...

  10. I love zucchini and tomatoes...Husband doesn't care for either:( Too bad for him, because we're trying this recipe.

  11. Zucchini is totally one of my go-to snacks, so I'd love to have a neighbor who winds up with bushels of Desperate Zucchini!

    I sometimes bring one with me if I know I'm entering un-vegetarian-friendly territory. (You do get some weird looks when you're at a steakhouse with your family eating a raw zucchini you pulled out of your bag… "What?")


  12. I love zucchini. I should so stay away from your blog in the early am hours. You make me hungry.

    This is another great one that I will have to print off for the sportsman to make me for dinner.

    Thanks, your the greatest!

  13. Yep. When I lived in Michigan, we had one of those zucchini from hell patches. I swear, there's no stopping them! I think they'd take over the yard if you'd let them.

    On the other hand, we learned to love zucchini and I have an extensive repertoire of recipes. I actually love this veggie, never got tired of it. And you're right, the early ones are lovely. When I'm in a hurry, I just caramelize them in a frying pan. Yum.
    Your recipe is nice because most of us have the ingredients to put this together in our pantries. It really looks delish.
    (I heard Barefoot Contessa say to cut your Parmesan in half and freeze it. Never knew you could do that with Parmesan.)

  14. "desperate zucchini" I love it. I am now officially coining that phrase too. Every year, itis the same thing desperate zucchini, desperate crooked neck squash and eggplant. Geez, there is just so often you can enjoy it during the summer. I start off with the best of intentions and then poof, I am ringing your doorbell mid-July.

    I really like the zucchini stuffed tomato-nice. I will remember this recipe idea this summer.

  15. So, I'm guessing yours isn't the doorstep to drop the end-of-the-season overload on, eh?

    This dish looks like something I would love to make (and really love to eat!).

  16. Hmmm - I thought this was your post about courage. Because zucchini takes courage! Ha!

    Just kidding. I LOVE tomatoes... with parmesan... stuffed with anything. This will be a great way to deal with my ridiculous bounty of zuc's this summer.

  17. LOVE THIS! I usually throw it together without sauteeing, but I love me a veggie-stuffed tomato!

    And you are right, the high priced fancy cheese ROCKS! AND a little goes a long way, perfect for shrinking my ethnic ass!

  18. I'm sorry, but I still think zucchini is evil. Actually I firmly believe all squash is evil. I know. I'm weird.

  19. i've definitely eaten my share of 'desperate zucchini' (love the apt name), but when it's handled properly, it's not so bad. this is a really unique and fun stuffing for some gorgeous red maters--i like it, i like it a lot!