Autumnal stuffed zucchini: A piquant but comforting recipe

When it’s zucchini season, you know about it. This can be great, as these culinary-vege/botanical-fruit are lovely. In all honesty, though, toward the end of Zucchini Time I struggle for inspiration. I’ve been in a pasta rut of late (it never seems to work quite as I hope!) and the staples of zucchini fritters, white wine vinegar fried zucchini, and roasted zucchinis dotted among other roasted vege friends become a bit tiresome. So, here’s a recipe that seems to suit Autumn: the piquancy of fresh flavours with the comfort of a warm meal.

Zuchs

The bountiful zucchinis, waiting to be chopped and devoured.

Halved zuchs, sliced so the halves lie flat.

Halved zuchs, sliced so the halves lie flat.

This recipe comes from the space between a couple of recipes and what the kitchen contents allowed. Borrowing from parts of the flavour profile of the stuffed zucchini recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, and the procedure for the stuffed mushrooms from Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion, we have the following recipe for Autumnal stuffed zucchini.

A zuch half, roughly scored while mostly preserving the outer skin

A zuch half, roughly scored while mostly preserving the outer skin

The mid-bits of the zuchs, scooped out of the skins and roughly chopped before being set into a colander and tossed with salt to drain out excess moisture.

The mid-bits of the zuchs, scooped out of the skins and roughly chopped before being set into a colander and tossed with salt to drain out excess moisture.

A point I’d like to make here… many, many, folks advocate for adapting whatever you create to what’s available. I have always struggled with this (I like the precision of a clearly defined recipe). But a recent wholefoods cooking class run by Brenda Fawdon who authored the wonderful Wholehearted Food – which I attended with my lovely friend Elise – offered the confidence to run with what’s on hand. I think it was the liberating experience of witnessing Brenda’s deft approximation that did it for me. So this is where this recipe grew from.

The zucchini skins with mid-bits (roughly) scooped out. You can see the score marks from where I was heavy handed with the knife. It's a bit nicer looking - and they stay together a bit better - if they don't have too many nicks and cuts, but I don't mind too much. (Still tasty!)

The zucchini skins covered in oil with mid-bits (roughly) scooped out. You can see the score marks from where I was heavy handed with the knife. It’s a bit nicer looking – and they stay together a bit better – if they don’t have too many nicks and cuts, but I don’t mind too much. (They’re still tasty, and even if you cut right through – ahem – one or two, you can just pile the stuffing on top.)

The zucchini stuffing: all the bits and pieces mixed together waiting to go into the skins.

The zucchini stuffing: all the bits and pieces mixed together waiting to go into the skins.

Autumnal stuffed zucchini

These quantities are for two people as mains (4 stuffed half zucchinis each), though if served for 4 people, these quantities would make for a lovely accompaniment to something hearty and not too rich, like a plate of roasted root veges.

  • Zucchini or other summer squash x 4
  • Salt
  • Olive oil x approx. 2 tbsp
  • Brown onion, small x 1
  • Fresh coriander leaves/ cilantro x 1/2 bunch
  • Pear, medium x 2
  • Lime juice from one lime
  • Currants x 1/4 cup
  • Feta, crumbled x 100g (approx.)
  • Paprika x a pinch or two
  • Black pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 180° Celsius, and prepare a baking tray with a sheet of parchment (I like to use the paper from this mob).

2. Slice the zucchinis from top to toe so that when the halves are laying cut side up, they lie flat. Make some shallow scores in the flesh of the cut zucchinis – like the cuts you would make when chopping a fresh mango into tasty wee cubes. Using a spoon, or a knife when needed, scoop out as much of the flesh as you can without disturbing the skin of the zucchini. Aim to have a shell of about 3mm thick when you’re finished.

3. Give the zucchini innards a good chop until then place into a colander or strainer, toss with a generous amount of salt and leave to drain for around 30 minutes, or as much time as you can afford. (The salt helps to draw out the moisture meaning that the final product will be full of flavour and not really watery at all).

4. Covering your zucchini shells with a slick of olive oil, place onto the prepared baking tray and into the oven for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the stuffing.

5. Dice your onion, chop your coriander leaves, chop your pear and put all of these into a mixing bowl. Add the lime juice, currants, feta, paprika, and the pepper.

6. When you’re finished draining the zucchini innards, give them a good press with a ladle, spatula, or similar implement to squeeze out any extra moisture. Add the zucchini innards to the mixing bowl with the rest of the stuffing, and mix through.

7. Remove the tray of zucchini shells from the oven and carefully stuff each with a good amount of the stuffing. Pile it up as much you can so each is full and rich and delicious.

8. Bake in the oven for a further 30-40 minutes – check for crispy corners and browning on the stuffing, but do not over cook. Remove from the oven, and use a large spatula to gently place the stuffed zucchini onto dining plates. Serve hot.

Stuffed zucchini, ready to be eaten.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as Glenn and I did.

-Bec

P.S. Now that the fridge is cleared of zucchinis, I am already looking forward to receiving the next lot so I can try this recipe for zucchini brownies from the inspiring Lunchlady.

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