Last weekend, my sous chef and I took a walk to his school garden with our English Pointer, Samuel. He weeded the garden and plucked some incredible veggies and herbs that he’d helped grow while Samuel marked trees outside of the garden. After all that work was done, we turned to head home with our haul of basil and tomatoes along with (not appearing in this post) cayenne peppers, wax peppers, and pears.
Even before our walk, we knew we were going to make a Stuffed Zucchini meal of some sort since we had plucked a 4 lb mega-zucchini from our side yard garden a few days earlier….and the arrival of the basil helped us make our final decision…a sort of pesto infused meatloaf stuffing!
We then diced up some fresh yellow tomatoes (also from our garden) and turned them into a sauce to top everything off after it was finished cooking before applying a little sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese. Given all of the veggie infusion and the size of the zucchini we used, we served this meal a la carte.
Time: 75 Minutes
- Large Zucchini
- Ground Turkey (although lean beef or pork will work too)
- An Egg
- Pesto or
- Fresh Basil
- Olive Oil
- Walnuts or Pine Nuts
- Parmesan Cheese
- Tomato Sauce or
- Tomatoes (we used fresh yellow ones from the garden)
- 1/2 Onion
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Begin to boil some water in a pot big enough to hold your zucchini.
- Slice the ends off your zucchini (we didn’t have a pot large enough, so we had to cut ours in half as well). Then, place your zucchini in the boiling water, and allow it to cook for a few minutes so that it softens and becomes easily scoopable. Then, remove from the water, and let cool.
- Start your sauce if making from scratch!
- Dice your onion and garlic finely.
- Heat some olive oil in a saucepan, and then add your onion and garlic.
- While your onion and garlic cook, dice your tomato finely. You can remove the skins if you like first, but we generally just cook with them on.
- When your onions become opaque, add in your tomatoes along with some dried oregano, a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, and some water. Add in a little sugar too (a teaspoon or two) to cut the acidity as everything simmers.
- Cover, and simmer until your tomato breaks down, and your sauce looks like a chunky sauce.
- As your sauce cooks, turn your attention to your meatloaf filling!
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with some foil. Give the foil a quick oil spray.
- Cut your zucchini in half longways, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon to form little dug-out canoes. Then, place those skin side down on your baking sheet.
- If using jarred pesto, open the jar. If making from scratch, add your pesto ingredients into the bowl of your food processor, and pulse to combine and form a finely chopped and fully incorporated sauce. You may need to add a little more olive oil as you go to achieve this.
- Place your ground meat into a large mixing bowl, and crack an egg in. Add your pesto, and combine everything by hand until fully mixed.
- Scoop your ground meat into the hollowed out area of your zucchini.
- Place your stuffed zucchini in the oven, and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until your meat reaches a minimum internal cooked temperature of 165 degrees F on a digital thermometer. (Cook times vary based on how thick your meatloaf stuffing is).
- When your meat is fully cooked, remove your stuffed zucchini from the oven, and transfer to your plates. Scoop your tomato sauce on top, and sprinkle on your Parmesan cheese. (Alternatively, you can top it with mozzarella and put it back in the oven to melt.)
- Devour, and enjoy!