- 1 lb Laura's Lean Ground Beef (92% lean)
- Olive oil (for ground beef)
- 4 Medium zucchinis or medium bell peppers
- 1/4 cup Onion (finely diced)
- 1 pkg Spanish rice (6.9 ounce, cook according to instructions, set aside)
- 2 Tomatoes (diced small)
- 1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese (shredded, plus extra for garnish)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley for garnish
- Disposable baking pans
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Total Time: 35 Minutes
Our gardens and farmers’ markets are producing an abundance of fresh vegetables, including zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes. It’s time to put a new twist on an old favorite by cooking stuffed zucchini and bell peppers on the grill. The grill does a super job of cooking these stuffed gems in less time than it takes to cook in the oven.
A Caprese salad and sautéed spinach or chard with lemon makes this a memorable summer meal.
And that zucchini pulp? Well, that makes my family’s most requested zucchini bread — double chocolate zucchini bread good enough to eat for dessert!
1. Cut zucchini in half horizontally. Scoop out pulp, creating a sturdy shell. Set pulp aside. For peppers, cut in half from top to bottom, and scoop out seeds.
2. Film bottom of large skillet over medium heat with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons.
3. Stir in beef and onion, smooshing with a potato masher or wooden spoon to break meat up. Cook until meat is done.
4. Stir in cooked Spanish rice, tomatoes and Parmesan. Adjust seasonings.
5. Place zucchini or bell pepper shells in pan. If necessary, cut off a tiny piece from bottoms so they lay flat.
6. Fill shells with meat mixture.
7. Pour a small amount of water in bottom of pan to create steam during cooking.
8. Cover with foil and cook on covered grill, preheated to 350/medium heat, for 20 minutes or so until shells are cooked to your liking.
9. Serve with a shower of Parmesan and chopped parsley.
Yield: Depending upon size, about 8 each zucchini or peppers.
Tip: Freeze extra zucchini!
+ Shred zucchini (peeled or not) and place in strainer to remove excess moisture.
+ Pack in freezer containers. Freeze up to 6 months and use in breads, soups, stews, etc.
ADDITIONAL RECIPES TO COMPLETE THE MEAL!
Nothing better when seasonal tomatoes are at their peak.
1. Place thick slices of tomatoes on a platter or plate.
2. Top with thick fresh mozzarella slices.
3. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle chopped basil on top.
SAUTÉED SPINACH WITH GARLIC AND LEMON
No set-in-stone recipe but easy to do. Chard works well, too.
1. Rinse spinach and drain, leaving water clinging to leaves.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, pour in enough extra virgin olive oil to film bottom of pan.
3. Add a few smashed cloves of garlic. Cook only until garlic starts to turn golden (careful, the high sugar content makes it tend to burn easily) and then add all of the spinach. Cover and cook until spinach is barely wilted, stirring a couple of times.
4. Season with salt, pepper and as much freshly squeezed lemon juice as you like.
TIPS: Let garlic “bloom” before cooking.
+ After smashing, let garlic sit 10 minutes or so if you have time. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, this allows it to form allicin, which converts into anti—cancer compounds.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT!
+ Freeze lemons whole.
+ Simply thaw to use. The cellular structure breaks down when thawed, making for lots of juice.
+ Make basil paste for the freezer.
+ Whirl basil leaves with just enough oil in food processor to make a thick mixture. Freeze up to 9 months and use as a base for pesto, dressings, soups, stews, whatever.
+ Basil contains antioxidants, potassium, iron and other nutrients.
BLUE RIBBON DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD (Or is it a cake?!)
This won a blue ribbon at our county fair, and the winner kindly shared her recipe.
It’s everything you imagined: moist, chocolatey, just sweet enough — a nice way to use that extra zucchini that seems to proliferate this time of year.
Frozen zucchini, thawed, works well too.
I’ve adapted her recipe just a bit.
1 stick butter, melted and cooled a bit
1 cup brown sugar, packed, dark or light
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, whisked before measuring
1/3 cup cocoa powder, whisked to remove lumps
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/2 teaspoon each: baking soda and baking powder
2 cups packed shredded zucchini, peeled or not
4 - 6 oz. high quality chocolate bar, chopped, or equivalent mini or regular real chocolate dark or semi-sweet morsels (3/4 to 1 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray or butter a loaf pan. Place a piece of parchment in bottom of pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, blend butter and sugar until well mixed.
3. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well.
4. Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and powder.
5. Slowly add to egg mixture and blend until well mixed.
6. Mix in zucchini and chocolate bar.
7. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
8. Bake 55-60 minutes on middle shelf, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Don’t worry if it has a bit of melted chocolate on it.
9. Cool on rack 15 minutes. Take a knife and go around edges inside of pan for easy removal.
10. Remove from pan, remove parchment, and cool before eating.
Yield: 10-12 servings.
Freeze up to 6 months.
TIP: How to tell if leavening is still good
+ For baking powder, add about a teaspoon in a little warm water. It will fizz vigorously right away if still viable.
+ For baking soda, sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda into a few tablespoons of vinegar. It will fizz vigorously right away if viable.
Recipe credit: Chef Rita Heikenfeld