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While taking a "tour" of my refrigerator, wondering what to eat for dinner last night, I discovered some Ricotta Cheese that had to be used up before it spoiled, plus 8 ounces of raw Italian Hot Sausage left over from a previous recipe, and a couple of Zucchini squash. IE, Baked Zucchini stuffed with Ricotta Cheese and Hot Italian Sausage!

Step 1: INGREDIENTS (2 Servings)

  1. 2 TBS Light Olive Oil
  2. 1 Medium Zucchini Squash
  3. *6 ounces bulk Italian Hot Sausage
  4. 3 ounces Ricotta Cheese
  5. 2 TBS Red Onion (or any sweet onion, like Vidalia)
  6. 2 Cloves Garlic (optional)
  7. **3 Small Shiitake Mushrooms
  8. 1/3 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  9. 1/2 Cup Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (for topping)
  10. S&P to taste

*As noted in the intro, I actually had 8 ounces of sausage; I used 6 ounces here and scrambled the remaining 2 ounces with an egg for breakfast this morning.

**Mushrooms were not planned for this recipe; I just happened to have 3 small Shiitake's that I also wanted to use up.

Step 2: PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Spray a baking dish large enough to hold two Zucchini halves with cooking spray.
  3. Add 2 TBS Olive Oil to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat
  4. Carefully Split the Zucchini squash length-wise into two even halves
  5. Using a tablespoon, scoop the pulp or flesh from the center of each Zucchini half, leaving a "shell" about 1/2" thick around the sides of each half. Chop the removed pulp and place it in a 1 1/2 to 2 quart mixing bowl and set aside.
  6. Dice or finely chop 2 TBS of Red Onion and temporarily set aside
  7. Remove and discard the Shiitake Mushroom stems (if using); slice the caps into small thin strips and set aside
  8. Place the sausage in the heated skillet, along with the onion and mushrooms. Stir fry the mixture until the sausage is no longer pink (about 3 minutes). Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool a bit..
  9. To the bowl with the chopped Zucchini pulp, add the bread crumbs, Ricotta Cheese, and chopped garlic.
  10. Stir in the Sausage, onion and mushroom mixture and thoroughly blend
  11. Add S&P to taste
  12. Stuff each Zucchini "shell" with 1/2 of the stuffing mixture (NOTE: Before stuffing the shells, make sure that they will lay flat bottom-side down in the baking dish. If they have a tendency to lean or rollover, you can level them by inserting a toothpick or two horizontally through the bottom of each shell. (Insert toothpick(s) just inside the skin of the bottom of the shell - sort of like horizontal "outriggers.")
  13. Place the stuffed Zucchini shells in the baking dish.

Step 3: BAKING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cover the baking dish with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil
  2. Bake covered for 45 minutes, or until you are just able to pierce the sides of the squash with a fork (You might want to start checking the tenderness of the Zucchini after they have baked for 35 to 40 minutes)
  3. When the baked Zucchini shells are just barely tender, remove the baking dish from the oven and uncover it.
  4. Top each half with shredded *Provolone and grind a little fresh Nutmeg over the topping.
  5. Turn the stove broiler on and place the uncovered baking dish about 6" below the broiler.
  6. Broil until the cheese topping begins to bubble and brown (about 5 minutes-watch carefully, you don't want to burn the cheese)
  7. Remove the dish from the broiler; shut off the stove and allow the stuffed Zucchini to rest for a minute or two; then slide the shells onto a serving platter.

NOTE:

When I conceived this recipe, I intended to top the stuffed Zucchini shells with Extra Sharp Provolone Cheese, however, I changed my mind while the squash baked. Too me, Zucchini is an "Italian thing," and somehow Cheddar Cheese did not seem right for this dish, so I switched the topping to one of my all-time favorite cheeses, BelGioioso Sharp Provolone, and added a sprinkling of freshly ground Nutmeg.

Step 4: TIME TO EAT . . .

Zucchini stuffed with Ricotta Cheese and Italian Hot Sausage, a nice summer salad, and a full glass of Chianti! Who could ask for more?

Mangiare e gustare!

Step 5: NUTRITION

I have calculated the nutrition of this recipe to the best of my ability, using the CALORIE COUNT RECIPE ANALYZER TOOL.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

<p>This is so creative, actually. I can't wait to try your delicacy (sorry though, will be without sausage). Thanks for sharing your original recipe. Looks delicious!</p>

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Bio: I am a 79-year-old self-proclaimed Chef who has spent most of his life in the hotel/resort tourism industry. I have traveled up and down ... More »
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