At long last we have reached the end of the alphabet and the month. I hope your foray into the cooking world was as enjoyable and informative as it was for me. I know all these recipes are being added to my cookbook and favorites list. Some of these I have been searching for on and off for a while and others are just as new to me as they are to you.
Of all the foods out there I searched that begin with the letter Z, only zucchini seemed to be a good fit to end this blog hop. I have looked up zeppelis (google insisted I was meaning zeppelins), zin (still no idea what that is), and zatar, an Armenian spice blend popular around the Middle East. As you will find out, only this nice summer squash could fit the bill to end your tour. At least it is a tasty ending when cooked right.
I’ll quote the article on Wikipedia on zucchini since I would muddle it on my own.
The zucchini or courgette is a summer squash which can reach nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. Zucchini can be dark or light green. A related hybrid, the golden zucchini, is a deep yellow or orange color.
In a culinary context, the zucchini is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower.
If that doesn’t sum up what a zucchini is, nothing will. Funny how everyone has called this squash a vegetable when it actually a fruit. I never would have guessed it on my own. But, as the article says, it’s used in many savory dishes (such as stir fries, sauces, and soups). In my house, we use it in stir fry and the flavor it adds is wonderful and the fruit itself nice and tender without a bitter taste.
In the culinary world, zucchini flowers are a delicacy and are difficult to get hold of due to their delicate natures. They have such a sweet, light, flavor, they take seasonings well and are generally found stuffed and fried, or added to soups or other dishes. I haven’t tried eating a zucchini flower, but they do look delicious on Chopped and Iron Chef America where I have seen them cooked. Naturally, those chefs can make anything look good to eat.
On to the recipe!
Stuffed Young Zucchini
4 small zucchini, 5 to 6-inches long, 1 1/2-inches thick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 vine ripe tomatoes or Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 slices white toasting bread
A small handful flat-leaf parsley
A few sprigs fresh tarragon or a small handful basil leaves
3/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg, beaten
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Halve 4 of the small zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and soft center flesh with a spoon to produce a set of shallow shells to hold the stuffing. Reserve the center flesh. Arrange the small hulls in a baking dish. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chop the reserved zucchini flesh and set aside.
Heat the remaining extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add in the reserved zucchini and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, to taste and heat through for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
While the veggies cook, toast the bread in a toaster, then spread liberally with butter and tear into pieces. Add the bread to a food processor along with the parsley and tarragon or basil, and pulse into herb crumbs.
Fold the herb crumbs into the veggies along with 1/2 cup Parmesan and the egg. Mound the zucchini stuffing in to the shells and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the tops with remaining cheese and broil for 2 to 3 minutes to brown.
Don’t forget to visit others on the blog hop! http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/2012-to-z-challenge-sign-up-list.html