The microwave quickly steams the zucchini so that you only need to run the stuffed boats under the broiler for a minute or two at the end.
4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise (about 3 pounds)
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 ounces whole-grain bread, torn into small pieces
5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into small pieces and divided
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
Preheat broiler to high.
Using a spoon, remove zucchini pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Coarsely chop pulp, reserving 2 cups; discard remaining pulp. Place zucchini halves in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave at HIGH for 4 minutes; let stand, covered, until time to stuff.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and sausage to pan; cook 4 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble sausage. Stir in reserved 2 cups zucchini pulp. Place zucchini halves on a jelly-roll pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Divide sausage mixture evenly among zucchini halves.
Place bread in a mini food processor; pulse 5 to 6 times or until coarse crumbs form. Add 2 ounces cheese and 1 teaspoon oil; pulse to combine. Top zucchini halves with bread mixture. Broil 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts and breadcrumbs begin to brown.
Combine remaining 3 ounces cheese, tomatoes, and basil in a bowl; toss to combine. Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, vinegar, and pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over tomato mixture; toss to coat. Serve with zucchini boats.
Thanks to enCreshio, I also used panko and melted the cheese on top of it all. Cooking times were spot on for my microwave plus the steam time while prepping the sausage and onion. I used hot Italian sausage as that is what my market had. The tomato side was good too. All in all, a fairly quick and enjoyable meal. We had a couple of slices of baguette along side. Very filling.
We liked this okay but probably won't make it again. It was kind of bland (which might be the fault of our HUGE zucchini, which probably made the zucchini-to-filling ratio a big more than it's supposed to be). For leftovers the next day we put the tomato salad on top of the zucchini boats instead of serving it on the side, and that made things a bit more interesting (with all the flavors combined in each bite).
I really liked this dish. I only had two zucchini from a CSA box, so I just adjusted the amounts of everything down. I used sweet Italian pork sausage and just diced a regular tomato instead of cherry tomatoes because those are what I had on hand. I also used shredded mozzarella instead of fresh and everything was delicious. I just reheated the leftovers for a minute or two under the broiler the next day and they were delish!
I've made these a couple of times now, so I've learned where I like to tweak. My bf was even skeptical these would be good, but loved them too. I used panko instead of bread crumbs and I did not blend all the ingredients in the processor. Instead we put them in the boats as is and dotted with the mozzarella on top. We found blending, while did give you a homogeneous texture, didn't look as appetizing, plus we really wanted that gooey melted mozzarella you see in the pic, and you can't get that on top if you blend it all in the stuffing. Make sure you really salt your zucchini or they might taste a little bland, but don't over do it. I also used hot Italian pork sausage, easier to find in stores. The only con we had with this recipe is that after microwaving and then broiling, the shell itself was really soft. A little too soft to keep the stuffing intact while eating. Maybe I carved too much out? We decided to serve it on top of a bed of rice and this is just as tasty.
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