Let’s keep it short and sweet today, since you’re really just here for the meaty, cheesy goodness that is this stuffed zucchini.
Faced with only minuscule opportunities to cook over the past few weeks, my dinners consisted of Seamless, my mom’s frozen dinners,* and quick slices of pizza in between apartment viewings. The rare nights I got home before 9:30, I whipped up 20-minutes-or-less meals: fish tacos, corn salad, etc. I even had a bar for dinner … you know that’s rock bottom.
But in between, I found a recipe for stuffed zucchini that approached “must make this now” territory. (Well, after I changed most of the ingredients to what I wanted the recipe to be.) The best part: I could make the recipe ahead of time, cooking various components when I had time, and assembling and eating it all when I found a respite from the madness.
So I cooked the rice one evening (aka it cooked while I caught up on Suits). I made the bolognese-style sauce another night, stirring in the cooked rice at the end. And then, in a fit of packing procrastination, I finally halved and scooped out the zucchini, filled and topped it with a pile of mozzarella and then baked it for 30 minutes until it was gooey perfection. And it reheats nicely, which means I can finally give my Seamless app a rest.
*For years, my mom has cooked up double-batches of all of my favorite Indian dishes and frozen them in individual Tupperware so that I basically have frozen dinners that are 100% homemade, preservative-free, perfectly portion-sized and you know, delicious. Your mom is probably great, but mine is better.
Stuffed Zucchini with Ground Beef and Rice
Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
You can make the filling up to a week in advance. Leftovers are also delicious — hence why this was the perfect “moving week” recipe.
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 small yellow onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
– 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
– 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
– 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings (or a mix of dried oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme)
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 2 cups cooked brown rice
– 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan
– 3 medium zucchini
– 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the onions and garlic on medium heat until they have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the ground beef, breaking it into crumbles and cooking until the meat has browned evenly.
2) Stir in the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper, brown rice and pecorino. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool. (You can make this mixture ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 7 days.)
3) Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
4) Halve the zucchini lengthwise, then scoop out the zucchini innards, leaving a quarter-inch buffer zone (to prevent the filling from leaking out). Spoon the rice-and-ground-beef mixture into the zucchini “boats,” then top with the shredded mozz.
5) Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the 15-minute point. Serve warm.