Zucchini Palooza!!! That all I've got to say. Or can say about what is currently happening in the garden patch. The yellow gourds have gone seriously out of control. I knew I'd have a problem when I left for holidays and there was a multitude then. But I did not prepare myself for the sight of them upon my return. Yellow. Zucchini. Everywhere.
Now I like zucchini. I really do. But like everything else in the garden this year, somehow the harvest is for a family of twelve, not for um, one. Good thing my Mom brought me up well, because I've been sharing. And sharing. Even with strangers. I've fantasized about sneaking around the neighbourhood in the wee hours and stuffing the crazy yellow things into people's mailboxes. Yossy planted the idea and it may have to come to that!
I've had zucchini for dinner, every night, for the past week. No, I'm not joking. I've pan-fried the smaller ones with butter, lemon and fresh basil. Delicious. Next night I added goat cheese. More delicious. I've roasted it with olive oil and herbs and a little balsamic drizzle. Super delicious. But they are getting away on me. Growing bigger. Everyday!!! And the big ones aren't that great for grilling or roasting because their shell gets tougher and they get seedier. But, never fear! A solution is at hand.
Take the biggest zucchini, slice it in half lengthwise and hollow out all of the seeds so you get two cute little boats. My Mom, ever the wise and resourceful one, has been stuffing zucchini forever. Recently she stuffed one with well seasoned ground turkey and Parmesan, and it kind of knocked my socks off. Any ground meat and cheese combo would be delicious, really. I had some local organic beef on hand so that's what I went with. I've fallen in love with fennel seeds and they were a brilliant addition to the meat mixture. Lovely stuff, fennel seeds. But you can season the meat however you like and add whatever cheese you have on hand. I had shredded Asiago, but I've tried it with Emmental and it's well. Awesome. I love chopped tomatoes with melted cheese, so those went on top too. The melted cheese forms this gooey crust over the tomatoes and meat and anytime zucchini is a vessel for melted cheese, it's never a bad thing.
I love that I can still pad out to the garden, yes, still in bare feet, and rustle up something for dinner. These are early days of September, and while the sun still shines warm and bright, the nights are darker, longer. Which is a good thing when you have run around the neighbourhood stuffing zucchini into unsuspecting mailboxes.
Zucchini Stuffed with Beef, Asiago and Fennel
1 large yellow or green zucchini
1 pound lean ground beef (or chicken, turkey or pork)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp each fennel seeds, basil, oregano, thyme
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tomato, diced
shredded Asiago cheese (or your favourite cheese)
Slice the zucchini lengthwise. Take a spoon and hollow out all of the seeds, forming two boats. Set aside.
In a frying pan, cook the meat with the diced onion and garlic and seasonings. When completely cooked, let it cool for 5 minutes before adding the egg and bread crumbs. Take a spoon and fill the zucchini. Top with diced tomatoes and cheese of your choice. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes, until cheese is golden. One half of a large zucchini is lots for one person. If the zucchini skin isn't too tough, I eat it too. Depending on the size of your zucchini, feeds about 4.