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Old 08-05-2009, 12:13 PM   #1
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Question Orzo-Stuffed Round Zucchini?

Okay - this season I've been having a love affair with round zucchini, which a vendor or two at my local farmers market have been carrying.

Tonight, to accompany "Chicken Piccata", I'd like to stuff one with orzo pasta. Current plans are to halve the zucchini & scoop it, dicing the innards & sauteeing them in extra-virgin olive oil along with some chopped shallot to which I'll then add some al-dente-cooked orzo, fresh basil, & grated parmesan cheese. Then I'll bake the halves in a 350-degree oven until heated through & the zucchini shells are tender.

Does this method sound like it will work, or will I end up with little zucchini bowls of slop?

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Old 08-05-2009, 12:25 PM   #2
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you may need to par cook the zucchini halves depending on their size ...( baking dish / water / cover steam. check in 10 min) before stuffing and roasting. You can make anything your stuffing so be creative. THe sauteed 'innards" will be soft, but the pasta and cheese will hold it together.

At the end top with more cheese and broil until golden brown.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:59 PM   #3
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The squash is pretty small - larger than a baseball; smaller than a softball.

The last time I stuffed one (same size) I simply used the sauteed innards & some chopped tomato with chicken-broth-moistened good old Pepperidge Farm Herb Bread Stuffing Mix. Piled it into the raw shells & nestled them in a baking dish next to a smoked turkey breast, covered all with foil, & baked for about 30 or so minutes. Everything turned out perfect.

My biggest concern here is not having the tiny orzo pasta get too mushy.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo410 View Post
you may need to par cook the zucchini halves depending on their size ...( baking dish / water / cover steam. check in 10 min) before stuffing and roasting. You can make anything your stuffing so be creative. THe sauteed 'innards" will be soft, but the pasta and cheese will hold it together.
I disagree. If you scoop out the seeds, and enough of the flesh to where there's about maybe 1/4" inside the skin, you can throw them in the oven raw with the hot pasta, and 15-20 minutes will get them nice and tender without being sloppy.

I've done this many times with zucchini - I usually go with a nice brown rice, chorizo, and red bell pepper mixture, cook it for 15 minutes, then put slices of fresh mozzarella on top and broil for the last 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and bubbly.

By skipping the par-boil, you get a nice firm texture and fresher taste to the Zukes, which contrasts nicely to the stuffing.
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:43 PM   #5
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I don't disagree with the metal chef. But if you get a big end of summer squash (1/2 a baseball bat say) and stuffing it is a way to deal with it, the par-cooking can be a real good way to go.
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:52 AM   #6
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I don't disagree with the metal chef. But if you get a big end of summer squash (1/2 a baseball bat say) and stuffing it is a way to deal with it, the par-cooking can be a real good way to go.
My MIL grows big honking zucchini every year, and we inevitably get a ton of them.

I suppose, if you're going for more zucchini/less stuffing (i.e. just removing the seeds) then you may want to par-cook it first.

Me, I'm all about more stuffing - so even those monsters get stripped down to just enough flesh to hold it together.
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:21 AM   #7
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Zucchini is a tender squash, if scooped out and resulting with thin walls, I would not par cook them. If you are worried about the orzo being over done, then cook them less to begin with. Cooked barely al dente, I think they will be fine.
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:45 AM   #8
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Okay - here's what I ended up doing. First, I cooked 3/4 cup of orzo to "just" al-dente stage - maybe a tad firmer.

I then halved & scooped my squash, & sauteed the chopped innards (these small ones don't have highly developed seeds yet, so you can use all the innards) in extra-virgin olive oil with a large clove of chopped garlic, 2 "cloves" of chopped shallot, a large piece of jarred chopped roasted red pepper, & about 1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil. Added my cooked orzo to the pan & also stirred in a small handful of bagged pre-shredded Italian cheese mix (parmesan, romano, asiago, & mozzarella). Placed my zucchini shells in an olive-oiled baking dish & filled them with the mixture with extra mixture (I probably should have only used 1/2 cup orzo) piled around. Topped shells with a little extra grated parmesan. Covered dish & baked for 25 minutes @ 375 degrees. Meanwhile I made my "Chicken Piccata".

Everything turned out great! The bit of extra orzo mix that didn't fit in the shells made terrific little "nests" to stabilize the zucchinis on the plate.

The only thing I'd probably do differently next time would be to use 2 cloves of garlic instead of just one. And I also might toss in some toasted pine nuts as well. I even had the little devils on hand - just didn't think of it at the time. Isn't that always the case??
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Old 08-06-2009, 12:03 PM   #9
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Sounds delicious!
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Old 08-06-2009, 12:53 PM   #10
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Definitely sounds like a winning side dish, Breezy.

When I do mine, it's usually a main course, hence the addition of chorizo (or whatever other spicy sausage I happen to have lying about)
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