Did anyone besides me get a kick out of Wednesday's numerical date: 07/08/09? My kids were telling me the corny joke: Why did number 6 fear number 7? Because 7 "ate" 9. Yeah, I know. It did make me laugh though.
Any-who, movin' on ... I’m getting a jump-start on the plethora of zucchini soon to be making it’s annual summertime appearance. I love zucchini. My favorites are the baby or small sized green goodies; however, I’m not picky at all when it come to the preparation method. I’ll eat it sauteed with garlic and cheese; I’ll eat it au gratin if you please. I would eat it in my house, I would eat it with my spouse. I would eat it with green eggs and ham; I would eat it with Sam I Am! Uh, I’m hoping you are all familiar with Dr. Seuss ... you know ... green eggs ... ham ... Sam.Just look at that golden crisp top! I bet every Dr. Seuss character would love love this. This recipe is a keeper for sure. Its origins are Northern Italian, and I got it out of a cookbook by Biba Caggiano years ago. You may recall that I’m Southern Italian. There is a big difference between those two regions; however, I love all Italian food and this recipe is no exception.
I’ve tweaked the original recipe to be gluten free. It’s easy. It uses regular ingredients. And it’s very filling. You will love it. Love. It. This baby is *company-serving-worthy*, too. Your guests will love it, and will love you for making it! Love. You. Yep, lots of love in this recipe. This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.
2 small zucchini
Alfredo sauce – see below
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ cup cooked ham, chopped (don’t use a sweet ham)
½ cup rice or corn Chex, crushed fine (corn Chex are now gluten free, too!)
NOTE: You can substitute fresh breadcrumbs for the Chex.
Grated Parmesan cheese
Alfredo Sauce (Makes more than you need)
1 stick butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup cream
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ cup parmesan cheese
¾ cup Mozzerella cheese, freshly shredded
Make the sauce first. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, and swirl around in the butter for about 20 seconds. Add the milk, cream, and white pepper all at once, stir, and bring to a low simmer. Add the parm cheese. Stir. When it is incorporated, add the Mozz cheese. Turn heat to low and simmer for about 7-8 minutes or until thickened. It will thicken even more as it sits.
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a baking dish. Prepare zucchini by washing it. Fill a large pan 2/3rds full with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes for really small zucchini, or a couple minutes longer if your zucc’s are medium sized. The zucchini should be barely tender. Rinse under cold water, then pat dry. Trim ends off zucchini and slice zucchini in half lengthwise.Scoop out the pulp using a melon baller or small spoon, and place the zucchini cut side down on paper towels to drain. Place the pulp in a mixing bowl, and roughly mash the pulp with a fork or two knives. Stir in the chopped ham.How are your chopping skills? I give myself a B+. I’m pretty good with this particular knife, but I’m not going to enter a chopping competition. Now, if we were talking about shredding or peeling ... I’m your girl. I can peel carrots and potatoes at the speed of light, and dispense pounds of shredded cheese in mere minutes. Um, sorry ... let’s get back to the recipe. After you add your ham, add the parsley, Chex, seasoned salt, and pepper. Fold in about ¼ cup of sauce.Filling should be the consistency of a bread stuffing. Taste and adjust seasoning. My youngest loved the filling right out of the bowl. Fill the zucchini shells with the mixture – really mound it high. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Put the stuffed zucc’s in a buttered baking dish.Bake 20 minutes, crank up the broiler and broil for about 5 minutes or until the top is golden brown.Mmm, mmm, good! These are deceptively filling, and are the main dish – definitely not a side dish. It pairs perfectly with a summer green salad tossed with a light vinaigrette. Just look at how great these are!The ham is so delicate in the filling, but definitely is an important component of the overall dish. The alfredo sauce made with just one garlic clove is the perfect binder for the filling. The Chex perform outstandingly as they provide great body in the filling.So, when your garden is overflowing with zucch’s, give this recipe a try. What’s your favorite way to prepare this green goody?
PS: Follow the link to Mediterranean Kiwi's blog titled Organically Cooked -- she's posted a great zucchini recipe (dated 07/08/09) served with veal! YUM!