Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini Grande Ole

Category: Beef
Difficulty Rating: Medium
Pretty Healthy

There were a couple of summers in my childhood, when my mom's friends grew zucchini. A LOT of zucchini. In fact, people had so many of the ubiquitous squash it got so they wouldn't even ask if you wanted them. They would just leave a bag of them on your doorstep, ring the bell, and run away! Gad zukes! The little ones were easy to use in salads and vegie dishes. But what do you do with a zucchini the size of a small submarine? Answer: you stuff it.

Ingredients:

1 large (2 to 2 1/2 pound, 13-15 inch long) zucchini
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 small (6-0z.) onion, chopped
1 small (about 6 oz) red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 T chili powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilis
1 can corn, drained
1 can (8-oz) Mexican style stewed tomatoes
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1/4 C fine dry bread crumbs (it's best to buy them--unseasoned)
1/2 C shredded Jack cheese
Cilantro sprigs

Cut zucchini in half, lenthwise. scoop out and discard soft, seedy center. Scoop out amddiscard soft, seedy center. Scoop out enough flesh to make a 1/2 thick zucchini shell. Coarsley chop flesh and reserve. Place squash, cut side up, in a 10 by 15 inch baking pan. Meanwhile, in a 10 to 12 inch frying pan over high heat, frequently stir beef, onion and bell pepper until meat is crumbled and browned, 8-10 minutes. Drain off and discard fat. Mix into pan the chili powder, cumin, chilies, corn, tomatoes, and reserved chopped zucchini (only use the part without seeds). Boil on high heat, uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes; stir often. Mix in chopped cilantro, bread crumbs and half the cheese. Spoon all filling equally into zucchini shells in pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until zucchini is soft when pierced and filling is hot in the center, 30-40 minutes. Sprinkle filling with remaining cheese; bake until cheese browns lightly, 10-15 minutes longer. With wide spatuals, put zucchini on platter. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Cut in wide slices. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Calories: 209 per serving.

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