Stuffed 8-Ball Zucchini

When I come across a different kind of vegetable, I have to explore the possibilities. I have been cooking for 40 years total, and I never came across the 8-Ball Zucchini until the other day. Our local supermarket has a ‘Jersey Fresh’ section in the produce aisle. New Jersey is known for excellent quality vegetables, after all we are the Garden State! I purchased a few and read up on recipes, but my favorite one is my own. I use this stuffing for stuffed green peppers as well. The wonderful cooking aroma wafting through the kitchen as it is baking in the oven is appetite inducing to say the least.  This may be one of the best one-dish meals that I don’t mind heating the oven in the summer for.

 

Ingredients

**Vegan option** 

  • 4-5 8-ball zucchini
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2  finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 lb package of lean ground beef or turkey ** omit meat and replace with  1/2 c.chopped zucchini bits and an additional 1/2 c. cooked brown rice, I use Mrs. Dash original to add flavor**
  • 1 small chopped onion and 2  finely chopped garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper, basil and oregano or any spices you prefer
  • 2 cans of tomato puree

IMG_1602 small

 

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the insides of the zucchini with a melon baller or grapefruit spoon preserving the top until later. Combine the next 5 ingredients and stuff the hollowed out zucchini.

Place the stuffed zucchini in a baking dish close together so they support each other while cooking. Pour the 2 cans of tomato puree over the top of the zucchini adding in 1/4 tsp. of salt sprinkled and some freshly grinded black pepper.

Cover with foil and place in the pre-heated oven for 1 hr. and 15 min. or until it is completely cooked. The reserved tops could be placed in heavy duty foil in the same oven so you can garnish later. Spoon the sauce over the zucchini a few times while it is cooking. Our family has dairy allergies, but if you don’t, during the last 15 minutes of cooking, take off the foil and top with shredded mozzerella and parmesean cheese.  The added bonus is this is completely Gluten-free.

 

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