Introduction: BAKED ZUCCHINI STUFFED WITH RICOTTA CHEESE & ITALIAN HOT SAUSAGE
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)
- 2 TBS Light Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Zucchini Squash
- *6 ounces bulk Italian Hot Sausage
- 3 ounces Ricotta Cheese
- 2 TBS Red Onion (or any sweet onion, like Vidalia)
- 2 Cloves Garlic (optional)
- **3 Small Shiitake Mushrooms
- 1/3 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
- 1/2 Cup Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (for topping)
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Spray a baking dish large enough to hold two Zucchini halves with cooking spray.
- Add 2 TBS Olive Oil to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat
- Carefully Split the Zucchini squash length-wise into two even halves
- 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.
- Dice or finely chop 2 TBS of Red Onion and temporarily set aside
- Remove and discard the Shiitake Mushroom stems (if using); slice the caps into small thin strips and set aside
- 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..
- To the bowl with the chopped Zucchini pulp, add the bread crumbs, Ricotta Cheese, and chopped garlic.
- Stir in the Sausage, onion and mushroom mixture and thoroughly blend
- Add S&P to taste
- 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.")
- Place the stuffed Zucchini shells in the baking dish.
Step 3: BAKING INSTRUCTIONS
- Cover the baking dish with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil
- 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)
- When the baked Zucchini shells are just barely tender, remove the baking dish from the oven and uncover it.
- Top each half with shredded *Provolone and grind a little fresh Nutmeg over the topping.
- Turn the stove broiler on and place the uncovered baking dish about 6" below the broiler.
- Broil until the cheese topping begins to bubble and brown (about 5 minutes-watch carefully, you don't want to burn the cheese)
- 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.
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.
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