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Stuffed zucchini—a hearty and nutritious vegetarian dish—is perfect for fall.
- 4 medium zucchini
- Olive oil cooking spray or olive oil, for drizzling
- Salt and pepper
- 2 slices about 1-inch thick stale peasant bread, torn then processed into coarse breadcrumbs, yielding about 2 to 2 ½ cups
- 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and finely chopped
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 tablespoons picked thyme leaves
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered
- A handful basil, torn or sliced
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 jar passata or tomato purée
Preheat oven to 425 °F.
Halve the zucchini lengthwise and scrape out the center flesh, making hollow boats. Finely chop the scraped squash and reserve.
Spray the zucchini boats or drizzle them with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast them cut-side down on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Place breadcrumbs on a small baking sheet and brown in the oven until deep golden and nutty in fragrance. Remove and leave oven on.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with EVOO, 3 turns of the pan. Add mushrooms and cook until deeply brown. Add reserved chopped zucchini, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme, and stir 5-7 minutes more to lightly brown the zucchini. Add tomatoes and basil, and stir 1 minute. Add toasted breadcrumbs and stir to combine so the breadcrumbs soak up the cherry tomato juice; add the cheese.
Loosely fill the zucchini with the stuffing, mounding it slightly on the top. Pour the tomato sauce on the bottom of 2 casserole dishes and arrange the zucchini in the dishes. Bake 20-25 minutes to set stuffing and heat sauce.