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Mama Elsa's Stuffed Zucchini

Mama Elsa's Stuffed Zucchini


  • 6 5-inch zucchini (1 1/2 pounds total)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling, divided

  • 5 garlic cloves, 1 crushed and 4 finely chopped

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (a couple of pinches)

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 can diced tomatoes (15 ounces), drained and juice reserved

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (a glug)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (3 generous handfuls)

  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a couple of generous handfuls)

  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped (a generous handful)

  • 10 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn


Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Halve the zucchini lengthwise and hollow them out with a small scoop or spoon. Drizzle the zucchini boats with a little EVOO and place them in the middle of the oven to roast (they will be ready when you take the stuffing off the heat). Chop the zucchini centers. Heat a medium size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of EVOO, two turns of the pan, the crushed garlic clove, the red pepper flakes, the onion and the chopped zucchini. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the zucchini begins to caramelize. Finely chop the tomatoes and add them to the stuffing. Stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and deglaze the pan with the glug of white wine. Cook until the wine evaporates, then stir in the reserved tomato juice. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the tomato juice slowly cook off as well. While the stuffing cooks, heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of EVOO, one turn of the pan, and the butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the chopped garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the breadcrumbs and lightly toast them, about 2 minutes. Add the cheese, parsley and lots of fresh pepper and remove from the heat. When the liquid has almost cooked out of the stuffing, stir in the breadcrumb mixture and the basil and remove it from the heat. Remove the zucchini from the oven and fill each with a mound of stuffing. Place the boats back in the oven and bake for 5 minutes to crisp the breadcrumbs.