Recipe: Italian baked stuffed zucchini
Growing up in an Italian family in New Zealand meant that one of the only ways to express our culture was through the food my father made. He had an unhealthy obsession with stuffing vegetables. He’d stuff anything from tomatoes to pheasants; if he could stuff it, he would. I think this was a hangover from the Second World War, when my father’s town, Rimini, was invaded — first by the Nazis and then by the Allies — and they had to learn to eat lean and from the land or the sea.
Gluten-free | Serves four
8 large zucchini
100g grated pecorino cheese
Chopped Italian parsley or micro-herbs, to garnish
40g toasted pine nuts, to garnish
¼ cup olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
250g prime beef mince
400g can diced Italian tomatoes
3 Tbsp Italian tomato paste
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp flaky salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ cup white wine*
500ml beef stock*
1 bay leaf
*If you suffer from Coeliac disease, please choose a wine that uses no gluten in its fining process. Check label to ensure item is free from ingredients containing gluten.
1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
2. Cut zucchini in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, running it down the middle. Place zucchini shells on an ovenproof tray, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until slightly softened. Allow to cool on the tray.
3. For the mince, heat olive oil in a frying pan and gently cook onion until soft, then add garlic and stir for a minute. Add mince and cook until brown, breaking it up as
4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a rapid boil.
5. Add oregano, salt, pepper and wine, and keep stirring.
6. Add beef stock and bay leaf, bring back to a rapid boil, then reduce to a slow simmer for at least 1 hour.
7. Semi-cover pan with a lid and stir mince only every now and again to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
8. When the mince is cooked it shouldn’t be runny, but it also won’t be dry like a mince pie filling. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Allow to cool.
9. Turn oven up to 180°C. Stuff zucchini shells with mince and sprinkle grated pecorino on top. Place them back in the oven for about 8 minutes, until cheese has melted.
10. Garnish with herbs and toasted pine nuts, and serve with a fresh, crunchy green salad.
Fran Mazza is a half-Italian pastry chef with a flair for design. She is also a hard-working mother of three children and knows the time limitations most modern households must work under. Feed Me Feed Me offers more than 100 great recipes for people who enjoy tasty food that can be cooked easily, with readily available ingredients. Published 1 April 2020, Random House, RRP $50.
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