Zucchini is a versatile vegetable. Although it is freshest in mid to late summer, you can now find it year-round in supermarkets. The recipe here is a variation on an Italian classic that makes a tasty and satisfying – but healthy – second course. It is baked in the oven, and I use plant-based meat.
Serves 4 people
Preparation time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
4 medium zucchini
3.5 ounces of “plant based” minced meat
1.7 ounces of grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano
1 large slice of stale bread
breadcrumbs or panko
tomato sauce 1 can
tomato paste 2 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
salt and pepper
chopped parsley 1 tbsp
chopped garlic 1 tsp
½ small chopped onion
half cup milk or vegetable broth
Medium mixing bowl
Rectangular baking dish – ceramic or pyrex
Cut the zucchini in two halves and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, obtaining two “boats” from each.
With a knife, coarsely chop the inside of the zucchini and set aside for the filling.
Coarsely chop the slice of bread, put in a bowl, add the milk (or broth), and mix using your hands.
Add the rest of the ingredients: minced plant-based meat, grated cheese, egg, nutmeg, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, minced garlic, and breadcrumbs.
Mix using your hands. You will get a soft, dough-like mixture. Add breadcrumbs in case you cannot give the mixture a shape.
Divide the filling into eight portions, and use it to fill the zucchini boats, shaping it with your fingers.
Finely chop the onion, place it on the bottom of the pan together with the olive oil. Add half of the tomato sauce and mix.
Arrange the zucchini in the pan, on top of the tomato sauce.
Mix the remaining tomato sauce with the tomato paste and dilute with half a cup of warm water, salt and pepper. Pour over the top and sides of the zucchini and drizzle a bit of oil over the zucchini.
Bake for 30 minutes at 180 C (350 F) .
Serve hot accompanied by lots of fresh bread (for “scarpetta”) or with boiled white rice.
They are also delicious cold!
If you are vegan, you can omit the egg and use 2 slices of stale bread instead. You can use rice or soy milk (or vegetable broth) in place of the milk, but I do not recommend using almond milk. Instead of Parmigiano, you can use vegan cheese, or 1 mashed boiled potato, or pureed white rice.
If you like, you can use fresh chopped basil mixed together with tomato.
The amount of breadcrumbs needed will vary depending on how much liquid is in the zucchini pulp and the type of plant-based meat you use.