Zucchini Stuffed with Spanish Rice

This recipe was commissioned to me by my friends at Pickalittle Farms.  They were looking for a stuffed zucchini recipe to help highlight their beautiful zucchinis that are coming into season.  I set off knowing that I wanted to do some form of Italian sausage and rice stuffing, and utilizing the insides of the zucchinis in the filling as well (no unnecessary food waste here!).  The Spanish-style flair came to me during the development of this recipe, when I was inspired to add some tomato paste, garlic, and smoked paprika to flavor the rice.  The result came out to be super flavorful and delicious – and also a great way to eat a lot of zucchini in a meal!

Below is the resulting recipe!  Pictures of the process are posted down below as well.

Zucchini Stuffed with Spanish Rice

Ingredients:

  • 8 small zucchini
  • 1 ½ cups rice, cooked
  • 2 Italian sausages, removed from casings
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cut the ends of the zucchini (both the stem and the flower end) and discard.  Carefully slice the zucchini lengthwise to create two long halves.
  3. Using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the seeds from the zucchini halves, ensuring that the rest of the zucchini flesh remains intact.  The goal here is to remove the seeds and innards of the zucchini, and make a little boat shape out of the zucchini for the filling.  Set the zucchini innards aside.
  4. Arrange hollowed out zucchini halves on a baking tray, with the hollowed out side facing up.  Brush each zucchini half with olive oil, and sprinkle the zucchini with salt.
  5. Place the zucchini in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the filling.
  6. For the filling, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large pan, and heat over medium high heat for about 1 minute.  Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  When the sausage has fully browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
  7. Chop the zucchini innards/seeds into small pieces, and add these to the hot pan.  Cook over high heat until all of the water boils out and the zucchini begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the tomato paste and garlic to the pan, and cook over high heat for about 1 minute.
  9. Add the rice, stir to combine.
  10. Chop the Italian sausage into small pieces, and add this back to the pan with the rice and cooked down zucchini innards.  Add paprika, rosemary, and salt to taste – stir to combine.
  11. Remove the roasting zucchini halves from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  When zucchini halves are cool enough to handle, use a spoon to fill the cavities with stuffing.  Once all zucchini halves have been filled, cover the top of the tray with foil and bake for one hour.
  12. After one hour, remove the tray from the oven and remove the foil cover.  Test for doneness by inserting a fork into one of the zucchini halves.  If the zucchini is tender, they are done cooking.  If still firm, return to the oven (covered), for another 10 minutes.
  13. Top the stuffed zucchini with parmesan cheese.  Bake (uncovered) for another 5-10 minutes to allow the cheese to brown and become crunchy.
  14. Remove the stuffed zucchini from the oven, and sprinkle with the fresh lemon juice.  Serve immediately.
  15. Enjoy!

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