Sausage and Parmesan Stuffed Zucchini

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With summer winding down, now is the time to use up all that seasonal zucchini readily available. Whether from the market, local farm stand or, my neighbor’s back yard, zucchini is my favorite vegetable for stuffing. Filling fresh produce with meat and cheese is a great way to get kids–and their dad–to eat vegetables. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to take a perfectly good nutritious vegetable like zucchini and pack it with a rich, meaty filling, but a mom has to do what a mom has to do if she wants to feed her family something other than pizza, chicken fingers, and boxed mac and cheese.  For this recipe, I used sweet and spicy Italian sausage and freshly grated Parmesan cheese in the stuffing, which elevated the flavor of the zucchini since it tends to be on the bland side. But… if you are so inclined, pizza, chicken fingers and mac and cheese are perfectly good options to stuff in zucchini as well.

Let me know when you make this recipe. Take a picture and hashtag it #QUEENCITYKITCHEN. I can’t wait to see what you post!

Sausage-and-Parmesan-Stuffed Zucchini
Makes 8 servings

4 large zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
3 cups marinara, store-bought or homemade
Kosher salt
Coarse-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
8 ounces hot Italian sausage, casing removed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella
⅓ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Scoop out the flesh from the zucchini, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges, reserving 1 cup zucchini flesh. Chop the zucchini flesh and set aside. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and top with zucchini. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and reserved zucchini flesh and cook until tender, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook one additional minute. Add the sausages and cook for 4 minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the remaining 2 cups of marinara sauce into the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan. Mound the sausage mixture into the zucchini shells.

Mix ½ cup Parmesan, mozzarella, breadcrumbs, and parsley in a mixing bowl until combined. Sprinkle the topping over the zucchini and bake until tender and the topping is golden, about 25 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.




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