Mediterranean Style Stuffed Zucchini

Got zucchini?………….
…………….. I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous of all of you out there who are swimming in this delightful green veggie right now. I’ve had a big garden in the past and I know how it is; one day you look and there’s barely a blossom, a day or two later and they’re full grown, bursting out here, there and everywhere. Then before you can blink, they become giant, big enough to scare you when you do your daily garden check. Oh yes, how I fondly remember those days………

We don’t have a vegetable garden now nor do any of the neighbors, so quite sadly, I have to purchase my zucchini at the market. But nevertheless, they’re abundant, very reasonable and they find their way into my cart all summer long.

If you’re one of those blessed souls who’s overflowing with zucchini right now, you’re going to LOVE this recipe. If you’re like me and don’t have a garden, be sure to put zucchini on your market list. It’s a tasty meal-in-one, loaded with lots of fresh summer veggies. It can be made ahead and popped in the oven just before serving…. and a warm, crusty baguette rounds the meal out nicely.

Although these Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini would make a healthy, light dinner for busy weeknights, they can also be dressed up quite elegantly for delicious company fare. Don’t you love a meal that you can make early in the day and stash in the fridge until just before the guest’s arrive? A twenty minute stint in the oven and you’ll be saying, (with a smile) “Dinner is served”.

I used my favorite chicken sausage, (I love the Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage with Basil and Tomatoes from Trader Joe’s.) but any type of sausage would be great. The recipe includes dried and fresh herbs, both of which add wonderful flavor. It’s funny…. to me, the dried and fresh versions of herbs are almost like apples and oranges, so unique on their own, each adding a totally different element to the finished dish.

I have a feeling that, even if you’re drowning in zucchini right now, you might just be wishing you had more once you take a taste of these Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Zucchini. But if that’s not the case, well just send your surplus over my way, I have a zillion more ideas of how to use them!

Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Zucchini

5 medium size zucchini, not too thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
zest of 1 lemon
½ medium bell pepper
½ medium onion
2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs
2 links (fully cooked) chicken sausage*, halved lengthwise and sliced into thin slices
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
fresh oregano
fresh parsley
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Slice 4 of the zucchini in half lengthwise. If they don’t lay flat just slice a tiny bit off of the bottom to even them out.

2. With a spoon, scoop out the insides of the zucchini, leaving a 1/4 inch rim. Rub zucchini all over with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place on a lightly oiled sheet pan and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

4.  Dice the 5th zucchini into a 1/4 inch dice.

5. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and dried herbs and stir for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add sausage, onions, diced zucchini, diced peppers and corn. Cook for 4-5 minutes until lightly sautéed. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

6. Add Feta cheese and lemon zest to veggie/sausage mixture in pan. Stir gently to combine.

7. Fill zucchini “boats” with veggie/sausage mixture. Mound up filling and gently press to keep it in place**.

8. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes until veggies are crisp-tender and cheese is be soft and melty.

9. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley and fresh oregano leaves. Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil. I like to serve these stuffed zucchini with warm, crusty bread and an assortment of Kalamata olives.

10. If making ahead, prepare through step 7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before baking then proceed with steps 8 and 9.

Serves 4

* ~ I love Trader Joe’s  Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage with Basil and Tomatoes but any type of fully cooked sausage will work.
** ~ If your zucchini are small, like mine were, you may have a bit of filling left over. It makes a wonderful omelet or quesadilla filling too!

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