Monday, August 27, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

As the zucchini harvest slows and these last few days of summer make you want to spend more time savoring the fun of summer rather than cooking up elaborate meals, this recipe will be a special treat before we switch into fall-mode with back to school, activities and cooler weather.  There is a lot of flexibility in the flavor of these zucchini boats, depending on what kind of sausage you use.  Of course, Italian sausage would be fine, but to lighten them up, use a chicken sausage which can come in a variety of flavors.  The tomato, basil, and mozzarella chicken sausage from Casual Gourmet that I used was delicious and played well with the rest of the veggies and added cheese.  As a full meal or just a side dish, these zucchini boats are delicious and easy.

Last month a friend shared a link to this Skinny Taste recipe for another friend, Erica.  After Erica comment how good these were, I jumped on board to try them myself.  I used my own marinara sauce, but you could use jarred or your own version.  And I had some huge zucchini (one green and one yellow), so I only needed two of them to get to 31 ounces, which was fine because that made four boats that I was serving as the main meal for dinner. (Yeah, Dave had pizza.  Sigh.)  Gina at Skinny Taste recommends cutting the sausage out of the casing, and then crumbling and cooking it.  I couldn't separate the casing, so I just diced my sausage and it was fine.  I also cooked the veggies with the sausage, rather than removing the sausage from the pan.  These were pretty easy to put together and the stuffing cooked up quick, although the cheese in my sausage just melted and cooked out, so it created more of a sauce than another flavor of sausage might.  But since the boats are topped with additional cheese anyway, it was no big deal.  Leftovers were still delicious, so you can make this one night and enjoy another lingering summer evening dinner later.

By the way, if you still have extra zucchini and have reached your limit, unable to eat any more right now, you can shred and freeze for use later in the fall or winter.  Just shred, drain of excess water, store in a zip top bag and freezer.  I store mine in 1 cup servings, and label the bags so that I can thaw what I need when I want to make zucchini bread in December.  Or toss frozen servings into simmering soups or sauces for extra flavor.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats


31(ish) ounces zucchini (about 2 large or 4 medium)
1 1/4 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup orange bell pepper, diced
16 ounces lean chicken sausage, diced or casing removed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cut zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the flesh and any seeds, leaving about a 1/4 inch shell.  Dice zucchini flesh into small pieces (discarding seeds) and set aside.

Boil zucchini boats for about 1 minute, until gently softened.  Remove from water and drain.

Spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch baking dish.  Arrange zucchini boats in the dish, cut sides up.

In a large pan, cook sausage until browned.

Add onion, garlic and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes or until onions are softened.

Add zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or so until everything is softened and heated through.

Divide sausage stuffing evenly among your hollowed out zucchini boats, pressing the mixture into the boats firmly.

Top each boat with sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan

Cover dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes uncovered until cheese is melted and starts to brown.

Makes 4 meal-sized servings, 8 side dish-sized servings.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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