This post is sort of a continuation of my last post. Simply because I had served my Savory Bread Pudding with these delectable Stuffed Zucchini Boats on a sunny Sunday at brunch. And the similarity does not end there. This recipe is also inspired from Food Network. If my last post was a tweaked version of Giada at Home's Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding, this post is inspired by Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals's Stuffed Young Zucchini.
Bengali cuisine has a lot of stuffed vegetables recipes and I love all of them. The most famous is the Potoler Dorma (Stuffed Pointed Gourd in rich gravy), which can be made in a vegetarian way and also non-vegetarian way. Pur bhora Kakrol (Stuffed Teasel Gourd), Pur bhora Kumror Phool (Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms) follows pretty closely. And then you have Stuffed Potatoes, Stuffed Capsicum and Stuffed Tomatoes, that had made a headway to many Bengali wedding platter.
Coming back to my recipe for toady, I never had Zucchini back in India because it was only available in specialty stores and were darn expensive. When I came to US, zucchini was one of the first 'new' vegetables that I tried. It has an uncanny resemblance in taste to Kancha Kumbro (Tender Pumpkin). Initially, I used to cook zucchini like my Ma cooks tender pumpkin. Later I got introduced to roasted zucchini and other american style of cooking this vegetable.
This recipe is simple to make and the best part, its vegetarian. Mushroom is the base of the filling here and if you are allergic to it or don't eat it, you can substitute it with peas or corn. In case, you are compulsive carnivorous like my husband, you can even add some ground meat. But trust me the filling is so hearty with all those mushroom, onion, garlic and zucchini flesh, that you would hardly miss the meat in there. Me and my family loved the recipe and hope you'll like too.
We need really tender and small/ thin zucchini for this recipe, since it'll cook faster in the oven. The more mature ones take a long time in getting cooked through, which makes the filling go dry and over cooked. Wash, clean and pat dry the zucchinis. Halve zucchinis lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and soft flesh with a spoon to get a shallow shell or 'boat' to hold the stuffing. Reserve the soft flesh. We'll be using it in our filling.
Arrange the "zucchini boats" in a lightly greased baking dish. Spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onions and saute till the garlic is fragrant. Add the finely chopped mushrooms and the green bell peppers. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped zucchini pulp and tomatoes and fry for sometime. Season with salt and pepper. The moment you add salt, water will come oozing out of the pulp and tomatoes. Don't panic. Cover and cook for few more minutes, till all the veggies are thoroughly cooked. Now increase the heat to high and keep stirring to evaporate the excess water. Keep stirring continuously, or else, it will burn at the bottom. Once all the water has evaporated, take it off flame and let it cool down.
Once the veggie mixture is cooled, add half cup of Italian Bread Crumbs, a quarter cup of Parmesan Cheese and an egg. Mix thoroughly.
Spoon the stuffing in the zucchini boat.
Sprinkle with grated Fontina Cheese and it goes in to an 425F oven for 20-25 minutes. You can use any good melting cheese instead of Fontina Cheese.
Half an hour later - Stuffed Zucchini Boats - Baked to perfection.
Zucchini is a very good vegetable option for Diabetics. It is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Thiamine, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. Source here. This Stuffed Zucchini Boat though looks high in calorie because of all the cheese oozing out, it actually a healthy option since excepting cheese, no other fat is involved. Moreover, you can always reduce the amount of cheese topping on your Boat!