Stuffing and then baking zucchini is a relatively simple process that produces delicious results. It makes an interesting appetizer or side dish and can even be eaten by itself. All you need is a medium-sized zucchini, about a cup of your favorite shredded cheese, about a cup of bread crumbs and a little over a tablespoon of butter or margarine. You may want to use seasoned bread crumbs. Any Italian seasoned bread crumbs or Parmesan flavored bread crumbs will do. A fantastic take on this recipe involves using only a quarter cup of your shredded cheese and topping the stuffing with some boursin cheese. However, boursin cheese can be expensive, so shredded cheese will do well as a topping, if you’re on a budget.
The first thing that you want to do is wash and dry your zucchini. Then, you are going to slice the zucchini into half-inch slices the short way; discard the ends. Do not peel the zucchini. After you have sliced the zucchini, you are going to take a small paring knife and push the tip of it into one of your zucchini slices at a 45-degree angle so that the tip is near the center and the blade is close to the skin of the zucchini (you can also use the tip of a French knife, but you may want to avoid this if you are not skilled with a chef knife). Once you have the knife in the zucchini, you are going to turn the zucchini slice carefully until you have cored out a pit for your stuffing to go into. Now the reason you did this at a 45-degree angle is so that there wouldn’t be a hole at the bottom of the slice. You don’t want your stuffing to fall through. Repeat this process with each zucchini slice. You should have about fourteen slices, depending on the size of your zucchini.
Next, you are going to take the pieces that you cored out of the zucchini and place them in a sautee pan with roughly 1 1/4 tablespoon of butter, over medium heat. You want to cook this until the zucchini is soft enough to be mashed. Once this is done, transfer it to a metal mixing bowl; then add about 1/4 of a cup of your shredded cheese and mash it into the zucchini with a fork or a potato masher. It should be a relatively watery concoction at this point, which is where the bread crumbs come in. There is no exact measurement for the bread crumbs, as it really depends on how much moisture has sweated out of your vegetable while you were cooking it. Just add bread crumbs to bind the mixture and stir them in until you have a somewhat dry mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set out a shallow baking sheet. Arrange your zucchini slices on the sheet about 1/4 inch apart and then place enough stuffing in each so that they are slightly overflowing. Then take the remainder of your shredded cheese and sprinkle it on top of the stuffing. Now, if you decided to use the boursin cheese as a topping (it’s delicious on this) then you want to take about a 1/4 tsp. of it and place that on top of the stuffing. It is a very creamy cheese, so it can be difficult to work, don’t be afraid to use your fingers to get it to stick.
Once the oven is heated to 350 degrees, place the tray in the oven and set a timer for roughly twelve minutes. This isn’t an exact science, so they may not be completely done after twelve minutes. Just keep checking them until your cheese is slightly browned and a fork goes through your zucchini easily. Also, if you like your vegetables a little al dente, they should be ready within ten minutes. Once they are cooked to your desired temperature, simply remove them from the oven and let them cool for about five to ten minutes.