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Stuffed Zucchini with Tzatziki Sauce

March 10, 2011

Here in jolly old England, they call zucchini courgettes. (We won’t be here for much longer, so I have to milk this UK-gimmick while I can.)  Even though I eat a lot of the green squash, its name still trips me up when I’m at self-check-out at the grocery store.

Machine: “Please select item.”
Me: Y-Z, no wait, what’s it called again?”
Machine: “Please select item.”
Impatient Briton: “You need some help there, luv?”

Sorry folks, it’s not my fault the French continue to dominate your culinary language – maybe you should have done a better job driving them out.

I also still have a hard time pronouncing the letter Z “zed.” Since my last name starts with Z, I have to say “zed” to people more than you might think. If I’m lucky, it comes out “zeee-ed.”

In any case, there aren’t any complicated cultural gaps to bridge with this zucchini/courgette recipe. Mint, parsley, and oregano give it a Greek feel, but stuffing a vegetable with herbs and cheese is something we can all get behind, especially if you top it with yogurt sauce.

I usually make my version of tzatziki sauce well before I start working on the zucchini, since it gets better with time. Tzatziki is Greek for raita, which is Hindi for cacik, which is Turkish for jajeek, which is Arabic for tarator, which is Bulgarian for tzatziki. Obviously, there are regional variations, but the point is, people like their cucumbers and yogurt, often with mint.

I always make too much of it. Luckily, it makes a great vegetable dip for carrots or bell peppers and goes well on sandwiches (especially with cucumbers and hummus, yum), not to mention more traditional uses like gyros and felafel.

It couldn’t really be easier. You mix up a bunch of tasty things, things I almost never measure. I did give some measurement guidelines below, but play around with it.

This may be the only time I say this, but go easy on the garlic. The yogurt will get more garlicky as it marinates.

The zucchini is adapted from a recipe for fritters. If you julienne the whole zucchini and mix it up with the same ingredients, you can fry it into tasty little patties. I first tried them at a friend’s house – it’s always great to taste something before you know how much work it is.

I still love making fritters, but the stuffed-zucchini is a faster, less messy dish. Let’s call it the weeknight version.

This is a good test of your OCD. It’s hard to get the stuffing back into the zuchini without spilling a little. See if you can resist picking up every tiny morsel off of the baking sheet.

I know I say this about a lot of things, but this smells pretty fantastic while it’s baking.

Stuffed Zucchini

Serves 4  (I made a smaller version in the photos above.)
Adapted from Zucchini Fritters on Epicurious

2 small zucchini or one big one (1 – 1 ¼ lbs)
1 cup red onion, finely diced
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
small amount of olive oil to grease baking sheet

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Slice zucchini in half length-wise. Scoop out the inner seeds and flesh, leaving an outer layer about ¹⁄₈-inch thick.
3. Finely chop scooped-out zucchini and combine with onion, parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, mint, oregano, and salt.
4. Carefully place mixture inside of zucchini shells. Pack it down and create a mound of filling on top.
5. Bake on a lightly-oiled baking sheet for 25-30 minutes until tops are golden brown and centers are cooked-through.
6. Serve hot with cold tzatziki sauce (recipe below).

Tzatziki Sauce

Makes one cup

¾ C greek-style yogurt
¼ Cup cucumber, finely diced
1 teaspoons red onion, finely diced
½ teapoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh mint
1 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 Tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper

1. Mix ingredients together and adjust seasonings to taste.
2. Chill for several hours or overnight for a more flavorful sauce.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 10, 2012 5:20 pm

    You can also do it with gtulen free flour… We call it Vege Bake in our house! Freezes so well, in individual portions for lunch or dinner for one!

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