Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini
Zucchini stuffed with Israeli couscous, fennel, marinara and cheeses. This dish was born of leftovers as many of my recipes are, but it's so good, I had to share!
Servings 6 servings
- 1 9x13 baking dish
- 3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise and scooped out Find straight ones for easy cutting, leave 1/2 inch all around to hold filling
- 1/2 cup fennel, finely diced Sub onion or celery
- 1 lg shallot, finely diced Sub 2 Tbl onion or omit
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced About 1.5 Tbl
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, fine chop
- 1 cup prepared Israeli couscous Or more if you like
- 2 cups marinara sauce If you don't have your own, buy the Mezzetti brand. It is the best! Or you can make my recipe, search 'marinara'.
- 1 Tbl dry marjoram Or use basil, oregano or all three!
- 1 Tbl fresh thyme Or 1/2 Tbl dry thyme
- 2 Tbl fennel fronds, fine chop If using fresh fennel
- 2 Tbl sherry vinegar Sub red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup ground parmesan The dry kind found on the Italian aisle or you can use a little shredded
- 2/3 cup shredded parmesan
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella You can use fresh, but I think shredded works best here
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs Mixed with 1 Tbl EVOO
- S/P to taste You'll use more than you think
- EVOO Used in various places
- Spray baking dish with food release and preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cut ends off zucchini, hollow out with a spoon leaving 1/2 inch all around and at the ends to hold filling. I did not use the flesh, but you could if you wish. Just chop and add to filling and adjust seasoning. Place boats in baking dish, drizzle with EVOO and season generously with S/P. Remember: zucchini is bland!
- Prepare couscous as directed on package. DO NOT use any flavourings that might be in the package, you want plain couscous. Make sure it's seasoned with S/P. You need to layer your seasonings since veg dishes need more seasoning in general.
- In a skillet over med heat, add 1 Tbl EVOO and sweat the fennel, garlic, shallot and mushrooms. Once veg is soft, add about 2/3 cup marinara and the herbs.
- Add in couscous and reduce heat to med low. Allow to simmer just a couple of minutes, then turn off heat. Add vinegar and ground parm, then allow filling to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Taste the filling to check seasoning - you want it well seasoned. It should not be too dry, adjust marinara if needed.
- Fill zucchini boats with filling, fill them as full as you can get them and allow couscous to cover the tops completely.
- Add the rest of the marinara, making sure the ends of the zucchini are covered and the couscous has plenty of moisture. Keep on top of the zucchini, it is not meant for the squash to cook in sauce. Some overpour is fine, it will make a lovely crisp!
- Top with parmesan, mozzarella and finally the panko. Again, any overpour will create a nice crisp at the bottom! (See photo.)
- Cover with foil and bake at 375° for about 45 minutes. Check the zucchini's doneness with a spoon. You want it cooked, but still strong enough to hold the filling. When done, return uncovered to the oven, under the broiler to brown the panko. Watch this! Panko goes from raw to black quickly!
- Allow to stand for 10 minutes or so, then serve. One zucchini is a serving, but 2 is fine. It's veg, dig in!!
Do get the fennel for this dish! It is delightful. If you hate fennel, celery will work. Fresh mozzarella could be used, but I like the dry shredded better. It doesn't form a blob and is not as bland. Many stuffed zucchini recipes call for sausage, which is fine, but I like how this turned out without it. It is light, but very satisfying with the fleshy zucchini. Of course this can be made vegan by using vegan cheese.