Recipe 3.3: Stuffed Zucchinis with Pasta
When I was growing up, my mom planted fruits and vegetables in the big garden we had in our backyard. I remember one year in particular when she planted a lot of zucchini. (Those of you who have gardened know how this story is going to end…) We had more zucchini than we knew what to do with. Lucky for me, I had a creative mom who used that zucchini in every way imaginable. I always loved when she would slice up the zucchini and fry it in breadcrumbs – it was such a treat and so tasty!
These stuffed zucchinis remind me of my childhood – and those late summer afternoons spent in the kitchen, making and eating fried zucchini (and homemade ranch dressing!) with my mom and sister.
4 zucchini, peeled
½ lb. spicy Italian sausage
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
4 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tbs. salt
1 tbs. freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs fresh thyme
½ lb. whole wheat pasta
3 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup parmesan
1 tbs. dried basil or 3 tbs. chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sauce pan, bring water to boil.
In a fry pan, heat 2 tbs. olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, season with salt and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until onions are fragrant and lightly brown. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
Once water reaches boiling, add 1 tbs. salt and ½ tbs. oil. Add pasta. Cook according to package directions, approx. 5-6 minutes. Drain pasta in a separate colander. Using the pan the pasta cooked in, heat 3 tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Return pasta to pot. Add parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Add more oil, as needed. Add basil and mix.
While water boils, slice zucchinis in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out a small well down the center of each zucchini half. Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbs. olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Place in oven. Cook for 5 minutes and remove from oven. Preheat broiler on high.
Meanwhile, brown sausage in a separate fry pan. Once browned, add sausage, onion mixture, panko, parmesan, egg, and thyme leaves to a medium bowl. Mix well, then add mixture to the center of the zucchinis.
Return zucchinis to the oven and place on top rack. Allow to broil until panko is browned and crisp, 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Pile 1 cup pasta on each plate and top with two stuffed zucchini halves.