Stuffed Zucchini with Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce

We are doing a farm share again this summer, only this time it’s a full share and we’re actually doing a semi-decent job of getting through it each week before it goes bad. Only a few casualties. It helps that we didn’t get weeks worth of greens and lettuce this year, it has been much more diverse of a vegetable selection. The past few weeks we’ve had a fair number of zucchini, and so I’ve been trying out some recipes before I take the remainder of the zucchini and puree it for my son. One recipe I’ve worked on has been zucchini cakes – kind of like a fritter – but haven’t quite gotten the right combo yet. This recipe I tried tonight was a winner though, so I am sharing it here. We stuffed the zucchini with a lamb mixture, and the sauce is a pint of cherry tomatoes (mostly yellow, with a few of the purple ones we are growing thrown in) cooked down and de-skinned:

For the Zucchini:

2-3 fat zucchini (or any sort of summer squash will work)

1 lb ground lamb (you can use pork or veal or even beef)

2 small eggs

1/3 cup breadcrumb

1/3 cup grated parmesan

1 onion, sliced thin

1 large garlic clove, sliced thin

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

salt & pepper

olive oil

For the Sauce:

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 leaves of basil

salt

For the zucchini, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the sliced onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft and lightly browned, stirring often. In a bowl combine the lamb, breadcrumb, cheese, thyme (just the leaves), chopped parsley, eggs, and the cooked garlic & onion mix. Add a generous pinch of salt a pinch of pepper to the mixture and make sure it is all well combined. Set aside.

Take the washed zucchini and cut in half lengthwise – try to make the halves as even as possible. Take a spoon and remove the insides of the zucchini. I just removed the softer seedy portion and left most of the flesh inside so it would make a nice secure boat for the meat. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on the inside of the hollowed out zucchini and place it onto an oiled cookie sheet. Fill each half with a generous portion of the lamb mixture.

Place the zucchini into the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the meat is well browned. If you check and the meat is not cooked through, you can cover the tray with a piece of tin foil and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes to be safe.

For the Sauce:

Take a small saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil and garlic. Brown garlic lightly, and then add the cherry tomatoes and the basil and cook down until the tomatoes are soft and the skins are easily removed. If you start it when you place the zucchini in the oven, the sauce will be done by the time the zucchini is. I remove the skins from the sauce once they are loose because I find them hard to digest (mmm..TMI!) but you can do whatever makes you happy.

To serve just spoon the sauce over the stuffed zucchini and enjoy!

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Random Bag Night – Lamb Meatballs with Sauteed Greens and Spiced Yogurt

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Random Bag Night mostly because we haven’t been home a lot so there is very little in the way of leftovers and the farm share veggies have kept us occupied on the culinary front. The following recipe is very easy, provided you can find ground lamb in your local market, and is a different spin on something I’ve made a few times for this blog – meatballs. These meatballs differ slightly (aside from the variety of meat) in their contents from traditional meatballs and the turkey variety as I added cooked shallot and garlic which I don’t normally do. The lamb meat needs a little extra flavor to tame the gaminess of it and round it out. To accompany my lamb balls, I sauteed some radish greens in olive oil and garlic and I made a spiced yogurt dipping sauce (recipe below).

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground lamb

2-3 slices white bread soaked in a little milk (I used 2 hot dog rolls)

1/3 cup grated parmesian

1 handful fresh chopped parsley

1 shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 eggs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Generous pinch of salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Place the minced garlic and shallot in a small saute pan with the olive oil and saute on medium heat until the shallots are soft. Add the garlic & shallots to the ground lamb. Add remaining ingredients above and mix well with your hands, making sure that all the flavors are incorporated. I like to leave the bread a little chunky so it gives added texture to the meatball.

Spray a cookie sheet with Pam or olive oil spray, take a small palmful of the lamb mixture and roll into a ball. Place each meatball on the tray. It’s important to make sure the meatballs are all roughly the same size so that they cook evenly in the oven. Once oven is hot, place the meatballs in and allow them to bake for about 30 minutes. The meatballs should be good and golden brown like the photo above.

For the yogurt sauce:

1/3 cup greek yogurt

zest of 1 lemon

6-7 fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

pinch of salt

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Allow the sauce to sit for a while in the refrigerator (at least 30 minutes while the meatballs cook) so that the flavor develops.

Random Bag Night – Chard stuffed with lamb & rice

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This one is sort of a comfort food classic for me, even though I am Italian and this is sort of morphed from a Polish recipe for stuffed cabbage called galumpkis. The recipe take a bit of work up front, but its worth it to get to these warm, delicious steaming bundles of comfort. Swiss chard is a favorite vegetable of mine, mostly because you can add it to so many things and get your green leafy vegetable quota without sacrificing flavor. Lamb is something I’m recently acquiring a taste for, but it’s definitely not a protien I eat on a regular basis. And the “sauce” for the stuffed chard bundles could not be any easier ! Here is the recipe:

1 bunch of swiss chard, stems removed

1 lb ground lamb

1 large onion or 1.5 small ones, sliced

1.5 cups of cooked rice – I used basmati

Handful fresh chopped parsley

1 egg

Generous pinch of salt

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 can V8

2 tablespoons white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Blanch the chard leaves in some boiling water so that they are pliable (2-3mins). Carmelize onions with a little olive oil and a small pinch of salt until they are nice and brown. In a bowl combine the lamb, cooked onions, rice, parsley, egg and a generous pinch of salt. Mix to combine all the ingredients well.

Take 1 swiss chard leaf, lay it flat on a work surface and take a generous handful of the lamb stuffing and place in the middle of the leaf.

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Roll up the leaf around the filling (like a burrito) and place seam side down in an oiled baking dish. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all the leaves, stuffing or space in the baking dish. The baking dish should be just large enough to fit the chard bundles tightly in a single layer. I used a 9×11 glass baking dish. Pour the can V8 over top of the bundles in the baking dish and add the white vinegar. You may want to add an extra 1/2 can of V8 if you want a little extra sauce. Place the baking dish in the over and cover with tin foil. It should take about 35-40 minutes for the stuffing to cook through.

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