Stuffed Zucchini

In this recipe, the hollowed out zucchini shells hold a creamy filling made with feta cheese, and the bread crumbs provide a pleasant crunch. This is one of the most delicious and elegant ways to serve zucchini.

16_Stuffed_zucchini_1

Makes 6 stuffed zucchinis

Ingredients
3 medium zucchinis (about 850g and preferably all of same size, about 8-inch by 2-inch)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon neutral flavoured vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing a baking dish
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium red bell pepper (about 170g), finely chopped
200g Feta cheese, crumbled
1 medium egg
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons plain bread crumbs, plus extra for topping
Finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method:
Prepare the zucchinis for stuffing:
Rinse the zucchinis. Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop the zucchinis and blanch for 8-10 minutes or just until the flesh begins to yield to pressure. Drain and let the zucchinis cool to room temperature.
Cut each in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and some of the surrounding flesh, taking care not to puncture the skin. The sides and bottom of the hollowed-out zucchinis should still be 1/2-inch/1-cm thick. Salt lightly and let the hollow side drain on paper towels. Reserve the scooped out flesh and seeds.

Make the stuffing:
Finely chop the reserved zucchini flesh. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan over low heat. Add the cumin seeds. When they get aromatic (a matter of few seconds), add the onions. Cover and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini flesh and seeds and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bell pepper is just tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the feta cheese, egg, salt and black pepper. Mix well. Add the bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until the mixture is semi-solid in consistency.

Stuffing, baking and serving the zucchinis:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Lightly grease a baking dish large enough to hold all the zucchini halves in a single layer. Arrange the zucchini halves skin side down in the baking dish and fill with the stuffing, heaping it into a dome on each half. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the filling. Bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden on top. Serve hot or warm. If using the Parmesan cheese, sprinkle some on top just before serving.

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