Zucchini has never been one of my favourite vegetables. It doesn’t have a whole lot of flavour. However, this can be a good thing because it’s basically a blank slate. You can do a LOT of things with zucchini (http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/zucchini-parmesan-fritters-with-lemon-zest/) and ‘hide it’ in just about any dish (http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/10-whatever-ways-sneak-vegetables-food/)!
It’s also incredibly good for you. Zucchini is an outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C and is the best source of dietary fiber that will keep your body in the best shape for the long run. It also contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus. To learn more about all the amazing health benefits of eating zucchini check out the following link: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-zucchini.html
I’ve been trying for a while now to get my kids to eat more zucchini, but it’s been an uphill battle. I’ve tried serving it raw with dip, sautéed in a stir-fry and diced into quinoa and/or rice. I’ve even shredded it and tossed it in with pasta. Although they will eat it all of these ways, I haven’t heard them tell me they actually like it yet. That was until I served it to them in the form of a cheesy zucchini boat! This recipe is DELICIOUS, easy to make and a fun way to serve zucchini.
About the recipe: I used cottage cheese to add protein but ricotta would be wonderful too. If you want to keep this dish lower in fat and calories, just reduce, or forgo, the mozzarella cheese on top. I baked these but they could also be cooked right on the barbecue!
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1.5 tsp garlic – minced
- 2 Tbsp shallot – minced (white onion or leek would also work)
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)1 cup mozzarella cheese (1/2 for mix and 1/2 for topping)
- 3 Tbsp panko break crumbs (1 Tbsp for mix, 2 Tbsp for topping)
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp olive oil (plus more for rubbing on zucchini)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp parsley – chopped
- OPTION: 2 Tbsp green onion – chopped
- Cut end off zucchini and slice in half length-wise and right down the middle to make 4 equal pieces.
- Using a vegetable peeler, slice down back of zucchini so that it has a flat surface and won’t roll around.
- Using a melon baller, scoop out the inside flesh and chop the ‘flesh’ into small pieces.
- Place in a colander/strainer with a bowl underneath and coat generously with salt.
- Allow to sit for 10 – 15 minutes to draw out the moisture then squeeze out any remaining liquid.
- Season the zucchini ‘boats’ with salt, pepper and olive oil.
- Heat oil, garlic and shallot in pan and allow to soften and become translucent. About 3 or 4 minutes on medium-low heat. Stir often to ensure garlic does not burn.
- Scrape garlic/shallot into mixing bowl with the drained zucchini bits and add all other ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 2 Tbsp of panko (mix the remaining panko and mozza together and reserve for topping zucchini later).
- Taste mixture for seasoning and adjust as desired.
- Scoop mixture into seasoned zucchini boats.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and bake zucchini boats uncovered for 20 minutes (up to 25 minutes if you like the zucchini very soft).
- Remove from oven and turn oven up to BROIL.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese and panko onto zucchini boats and place under broiler for 3 – 5 minutes or until the top is browning and crispy.
Suggestion: Serve as a vegetarian dish with rice or quinoa or serve with your favourite meat (I really like these with steak or pork!