Stuffed Zucchini

Serves 4

2 large zucchini

2 tomatoes, diced or a 14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes

1 pound italian sausage removed from casing (you can use turkey). I used a combo of hot and sweet

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1/4 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon fresh basil, torn into small pieces

1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup panko or Italian bread crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

a drizzle or two of extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Cut the zucchini lengthwise.  Hollow out and remove the pulpy, seedy center of each half (a grapefruit spoon works beautifully for this) being careful to not dig too deep into the "flesh" of the zucchini.
  4. Remove casings from sausage. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, brown the sausage, breaking it up, until fat is rendered and sausage is slightly undercooked. 
  5. Drain fat and remove sausage from pan, set aside.
  6. Add a scant drizzle of olive oil to the pan.  Add the peppers and onions and sauté over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes until they just begin to soften.  
  7. Add the garlic.  Sauté for another minute.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes along with any juices and cook another minute.  Return the cooked sausage to the pan, along with the panko, broth, and basil.  Mix well and remove from heat.
  9. Loosely, fill each zucchini half with the stuffing mixture.  
  10. Top with the grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
  11. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil.
  12. Bake in the center of a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  13. After 30 minutes, stick a fork into the side of the zucchini to check for tenderness.  The fork should pierce the zucchini easily, but the zucchini should still hold its shape.  (If you are using smaller zucchini you would have to reduce the baking time)  Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is brown.