My mother used to make this stuffed zucchini for us when I was growing up. We had a garden, and as anyone who grows zucchini knows, there is always more than enough. Here is a picture of me, circa 1976, with my brother Tim, and dog Sheba, and a huge bat of a zucchini.
There was never a recipe written down, we just always made this. I had to stop and think as I was throwing it together, to measure, so I could accurately relay it to you.
The pesto is another story. When pesto was all the rage, in the 80's and early 90's, I didn't like it. It was too strong for my tastes and I'm not a huge fan of pine nuts. But this year, my basil plants were gorgeous,
So I decided to give it a shot, tweaking recipes and substituting toasted slivered almonds for the pine nuts. I made it in a blender and it worked fine and was delicious! And it makes your house smell divine. Audrey and I now love this pesto, and have made several batches, freezing cupfuls in ziploc bags for a future treat to break the winter doldrums. The pesto pasta goes perfectly with the stuffed zucchini, but you will have to make the pesto earlier in the day, or thaw out previously frozen pesto because you won't have time to make it once you put the zucchini in the oven.
Sausage Stuffed Zucchini
2 medium (approx 8" long) zucchini
1 (12 ounce) Jones Original pork sausage (found in your grocer's freezer section, log shaped) - thawed
3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup of reserved pulp of zucchini, chopped small
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 13x9 in baking dish. Cut zucchini in half, then in half again, lengthwise, so you have 8 "boats." With a spoon, scoop out the fleshy middle of the zucchini, only going down about 1/2 inch. You want to leave the good flesh of the zucchini. Take the pulp, and chop it up into 1/4 inch pieces, reserving a cup of this for the stuffing. Place the thawed sausage in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg and pulp. Mix together with your hand until thoroughly combined. Place zucchini boats in a single layer in the prepared dish. Divide the stuffing equally among the boats, mounding stuffing nicely. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until stuffing looks nicely browned.
Toasted Almond Pesto Campanelli
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted lightly brown
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 pound Barilla Campanelli pasta
You may use a food processor by pulsing first 4 ingredients, then adding olive oil in a stream until it is all blended fine. If you are using a blender, stuff some basil leaves way down, then add nuts and pulse. You may have to stop the blender and take the handle of a wooden spoon to jam basil down towards the blades. After doing that a couple times, it usually takes off blending in earnest. Add garlic cloves and Parmesan, pulsing a couple times, then pour olive oil into blender in a stream while blending. Store 1 cup in a covered container for the Campanelli, and freeze the rest in a ziploc bag for a later use.
While zucchini is baking, set a large pot of salted water on to boil. Add a few drops of olive oil to the water. Cook pasta according to package directions, before straining, reserve 1/4 cup of the boiling water and add to the pesto, to loosen it up, so it will coat the pasta well. Toss pasta with the pesto and serve immediately with the zucchini.
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