My mom was a resourceful cook, creating delicious meals with limited resources. She grew up in a poor family of Sicilian immigrants, and learned to cook from my nana by adapting recipes from the Old Country to more modern American ingredients. Mom taught me many of her secrets, and I’m happy to share with you one of our family favorites – Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe.
Summer is the perfect time to make this dish, since zucchini is in abundance at farmers markets and backyard vegetable gardens. Although you can make this recipe with any type of zucchini, I found the globe zucchini variety at our local Little Italy Mercato. They are fun to hollow out and use as natural cups to hold all the cheesy goodness.
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Start with four good size zucchini. Whether you have globe zucchini or the regular type, hollow them out like you would a pumpkin at Halloween. Set aside the insides – we will use them in the recipe.
Mom would plop the hollowed zucchini in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes to soften them. I have skipped this step once or twice when making this dish. It really depends on whether you want to enjoy the finished product with a knife and fork, or more softened like a casserole.
Gather the following ingredients:
- 4 zucchini (globe or regular)
- 1 lb. Italian sausage (best freshly made from the butcher)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 medium (or 1 large) portobello mushroom, cubed
- 1 cup bread crumbs (mom made her own but who has time for that?!?)
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used a mix of Italian cheeses readymade from Trader Joe’s)
- 1/2 cup romano cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tbs chopped parsley
- 2 tbs chopped basil
- salt and pepper to taste
Take the sausage out of its casing, crumble and fry in a pan with oil, onions and garlic. Add mushroom and insides of zucchini, cooking until just tender. Combine the sausage mixture in a bowl with bread crumbs, egg parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Stuff the zucchini until heaping, and place in a greased baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 125-30 minutes or until tender.
Serve with a dash of parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh basil.