You know what happens when you go on vacation, even for a few days, and you have zucchini growing in your garden? Even when it’s only for four days and you’ve picked every visible zucchini you can right before you leave? Bats, that’s what. Baseball bats. Humungous baseball bat-sized zucchini that you can’t imagine could have grown in just four days. Let alone three of them. What the heck? Where did these come from? Obviously you’re blind, you tell yourself, they must have been hiding under a leaf. Lots of leaves. Whatever. Now you have them, so what to do? Zucchini bread and zucchini cake are obvious choices, and you can also scoop out some of the insides of these mongo zucchinis, stuff the zucchini shells, and bake them. Which is exactly what we’ve done here.
This stuffed zucchini recipe is somewhat of a gardener’s paradise. If you are growing zucchini, you are also likely growing tomatoes and basil. We make pesto with our excess of basil, and we pick cherry tomatoes from our plants all summer long. The stuffing for this recipe is just freshly made croutons and Mozzarella cheese, tossed with basil pesto, some grated Parm, a few chopped cherry tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts. A perfect summer garden meal. Enjoy!
Pesto Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
- 2 cups of day old cubed bread*
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts
- 1 very large zucchini (about 2 pounds), otherwise known as a baseball bat zucchini
- 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
- A handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
*The bread should be a little dry, this way it will toast better. If you don't have day old or slightly dry bread, cut up fresh bread and lay out on a baking sheet. Heat in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
1 In a medium skillet, melt butter on medium to medium high heat. Add the slightly dry cubed bread, toss to coat at least some of the sides in a little butter. Lay out in a single layer cook, without moving the croutons, until one side is lightly browned, then toss and let cook a little more so a few more sides get a little brown. Remove from pan and let cool to touch.
2 While the croutons are browning, heat a small skillet on high. Add the pine nuts and cook until they begin to brown (do not walk away, once they start browning they can easily go from brown to burnt!). When they start to brown, remove them from the pan into a small bowl.
3 Place the croutons and Mozzarella in a medium bowl. Toss with the pesto. Add the grated Parmesan, chopped cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and toss some more.
4 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inner flesh with a metal spoon, leaving 1/4 to a 1/2-inch thickness in the zucchini boats.** Place the zucchini boats in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the inside of the boats with salt. Fill the boats with the stuffing mixture. Pour a cup or so of water into the bottom of the roasting pan (so that zucchini doesn't dry out on the outside), to about 1/4 inch depth. Bake for 45 minutes at 375°F.
**In this recipe we are not using the zucchini flesh that we have scooped out. You can easily freeze it for later use with zucchini recipes such as zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, or zucchini cake. Or you can chop some of it up and mix it in with the stuffing mixture.
Yield: Serves 4.