Inspiration: The first time that I remember seeing the idea for stuffed zucchini was in 2007, and it’s taken me until now to finally get it made. Why? I don’t know. I think that I just want to try too many things. One version of stuffed zucchini or another has been on our menu about a thousand times, but I’ve always ended up nixing it for something that sounded better. It’s about time that I finally stuck with it!
What we Loved: What a pleasant surprise this was! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting too much from this meal (which probably also contributed to my procrastination with making it), but we both absolutely loved it. The filling is just wonderful! It’s so rich and creamy, and it sure does taste a whole lot like my favorite part of a standard taco - that blend of spicy seasoned meat and cheddar cheese. The zucchini itself is nice and tender but nowhere near mushy (a huge pet peeve of mine), and it adds that wonderful, fresh vegetable flavor that really rounds out the meal. It’s almost like you’re replacing the cool lettuce in a taco with warm zucchini, and I think that’s a great spin! This recipe is really all of the foods that you need for a solid meal in one nice little boat. I’m sure that I’ll be making up for the three years that it took me to try this idea by throwing it onto the weeknight menu again and again.
Helpful Hints: Brandon mentioned that the filling for this zucchini would work great turned into an appetizer dip, and I think that he’s absolutely right! It’s uber creamy and would be perfect. Just make the filling, put it in a bowl, top with plenty of shredded Cheddar, and pop it in the oven or beneath the broiler for a bit to brown.
Source: Original Recipe
2 6-inch zucchini
1/2 lb ground beef (or turkey/pork)
Taco seasoning (chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, coriander, salt, pepper)
1 roma tomato, cored and chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1. Trim the ends from the zucchini, and slice them lengthwise in half. Using a paring knife, cut out the insides of the zucchini to form boat shapes. It helps to use a spoon to scrape and smooth out what you can’t do with a knife. Roughly chop the zucchini pieces that you have removed.
2. Brown the meat in a saute pan. Add a little bit of water and the taco seasoning. You can eyeball it – I use the largest amounts of chili powder, paprika, and cumin, followed by a sprinkling of all of the rest.
3. Add the onions, tomato, and zucchini pieces to the pan. Cook until most of the water released from the vegetables has evaporated.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Mix in the softened cream cheese.
5. Place the zucchini in a baking dish, and stuff each one with some of the mixture. Leftover filling would make a fabulous dip!
6. Top with the grated cheddar. Carefully add about 1/4 inch water to the baking dish (so that the zucchini are sitting directly in the water). This will keep the zucchini from drying out while cooking and will result in the vegetable being tender (but not mushy).
7. Bake for approximately 25 minutes at 400 degrees.