Stuffed zucchini [eggplant, peppers or tomatoes for that matter] is a great weeknight dinner. I use it as an opportunity to use up odds and ends of veggies hanging around in the refrigerator. The gardening season is still in full swing here in Michigan. I still have an abundance of zucchini and the eggplant is just starting to produce. The peppers and tomatoes are a little slower in the production category though. We’re still in the “one at a time” phase. At least we can easily supplement those with the local farmer’s market. This post is simply the evolution of what I had on hand to create what I could call a meal. It turned out pretty darn good too! Served with a salad, it provided a substantial daily serving of vegetables. I need those “light on meat days” every once and awhile. This could also be made meat free, making it a great vegetarian option.
3 Links turkey Italian sausage [spicy or sweet depending on taste], removed from casing
2 large whole zucchini, stems removed; slice in half lengthwise; pulp removed and set aside [my zucchini were about 9″ long and 2″ in diameter]
1 medium eggplant, diced
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup of reserved zucchini pulp, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup bread crumbs or panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 medium tomato, sliced and halved
salt & pepper to taste
1+ Tablespoon olive oil
•Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking dish [mine was about 9×13] with cooking spray and set aside.
•Cook turkey sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat. If the sausage is extra lean, add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan. Cook until well browned. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
•Meanwhile, trim the ends off the zucchini. Scoop the flesh out using a spoon, leaving about 1/4 to 12 inch border from the skin. Set the pulp aside. Place the zucchini shells in the prepared baking pan. Salt & pepper to taste.
•To the same skillet used for the sausage, add the diced onion, green pepper and red pepper. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil if pan dries out. Cook just until the veggies begin to soften. Add the cubed eggplant and the mushrooms to the pan. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the mixture, salt/pepper and cover the pan. Covering the pan will help “steam” and cook down the eggplant which can have the tendency to act as a sponge with any moisture in the pan. I find I use a lot less oil this way. Stir periodically, adding more oil if needed. After about 10 minutes, add the zucchini pulp; heat through, uncovered. Add the minced garlic; cook until fragrant. Return the cooked sausage to the pan; stir well to blend thoroughly. Add the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Remove from the heat. Taste and add more salt/pepper if needed.
•Fill each zucchini shell with 1/4 of the vegetable mixture. Cover the baking pan with foil and cook for approximately 15 minutes until zucchini shells have softened.
•Remove foil. Place tomato slices (3-4 pieces) on top of each zucchini and sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Return to oven; cook approximately 5 more minutes to melt the cheese and heat the tomatoes. Serve with additional cheese to taste.