On a budget

Baked stuffed zucchini

(Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe; Food Styling/Karoline Boehm Goodnick)
August 27, 2008
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Serves 4

Stuffing vegetables with meat is an easy way to stretch a pound of ground dark-meat turkey or beef. It turns into a kind of meatloaf mixture when mixed with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and herbs. Instead of adding tomato sauce to the meat, lay thin slices of fresh tomatoes over the ground meat to flavor the filling and keep it moist.

1overgrown zucchini or 4 medium zucchini
2tablespoons olive oil
1medium onion, chopped
1pound ground dark-meat turkey or beef
1cup plain white bread crumbs, or more if necessary
1/4cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
1tablespoon each chopped fresh thyme and oregano
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4medium tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced
Extra Parmesan (for sprinkling)
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a large roasting pan.

2. Halve the large or medium zucchini lengthwise. If using the large one, cut into 8 pieces.

3. With a spoon, remove the seeds from the zucchini and discard them. Use a small knife to remove as much of the flesh as possible from the shells, taking care not to puncture the shells. Transfer the flesh to a bowl.

4. Place the outer shells in the roasting pan with 1/4 inch of water. Bake them for 15 minutes or until they are softened but not fully cooked. Leave the oven on.

5. Chop the zucchini flesh coarsely.

6. In large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onion, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened. Add the turkey or beef and continue cooking, stirring, until it breaks up. Remove the skillet from the heat.

7. Add the bread crumbs, the 1/4 cup of Parmesan, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and lemon juice. Stir in the chopped zucchini flesh.

8. Divide the filling among the zucchini shells. Cover with tomatoes. Bake for 20 minutes.

9. Sprinkle the filling with more Parmesan cheese and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and the squash is tender when pierced with a skewer. (Total cooking time is 40 minutes.) Janet McLeod

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