Stuffed Grilled Zucchini
This year we eschewed growing the common, green zucchini such as you see in most grocery stores. Instead we opted for the more ornate costata romanesco variety, with its variegated coloring and ribbed skin. It's a lovely, mild zucchini that seems to be making an appearance at farmers markets everywhere.
Like most any zucchini, costata romanesco is prolific. Thus far this year we've harvested quite a number from the four plants we have vining their way through our garden. I try to pick the fruits when they are no larger than around 8" in length, although I inevitably find one that had escaped my previous day's rounds, hidden in among the big green leaves, and that has managed to grow to a hefty size seemingly overnight. Those big bruisers are still good eating, especially when seasoned and cooked on the grill.
Last night we hosted a small dinner for our dear friends Paul and Talane, who spend a month or so each summer here in Wisconsin from their permanent home in the UK. They're heading back to England this week, so we wanted to spend one more day before their departure chatting, eating and making our own grand plans to visit England sometime soon. I tried to make dinner a mostly Wisconsin-and-garden-centric affair, with homemade pizza of mushrooms and venison (recipe for that one coming tomorrow), stuffed grilled zucchini, mixed garden salad and heirloom tomatoes. We also had some great Wisconsin beer on hand with Leinenkugel's and Three Sheeps Brewery in the fridge, although we all ended up drinking vodka tonics throughout the evening.
Here's my recipe for the Stuffed Grilled Zucchini, although to be fair, the zucchini isn't really "stuffed" so much as it's topped.
- zucchini, cut in half length-wise, and again in half cross-wise if they're big.
- olive oil
- bacon lardons
- garlic cloves, 3 or 4, finely diced
- shredded parmesan or parmegiano-reggiano
- granny smith apple, diced small
- serrano pepper, diced
- onion, diced small
- sea salt and cracked pepper
- mozzarella cheese
1) Fire up your grill and get it up to around 350°-375°.
2) Scrape a shallow groove or channel down each halved zucchini with a spoon. Place the removed zucchini flesh into a shallow bowl for mixing with the other ingredients.
3) Oil and season the zucchinis all over, top to bottom, both sides.
4) Add the bacon lardons, garlic, parmesan, apple, serrano pepper, onion and S&P to the bowl and mix everything together by loosely tossing it around with your hands.
5) Place a goodly amount of the stuffing into the hollowed-out channels of the zucchinis.
6) Place the halved, "stuffed" zucchinis on the upper grill rack if your grill has one of those (like mine does in the pic) or to the outside of the hottest area of the grill. You'll want to grill these with indirect heat vs direct heat, long enough to soften the interior and melt and ever-so-slightly brown the cheesy stuffing on top. It should take around 15-20 minutes, give or take, with a closed lid on the grill...depending on how big the zucchini are and how often you open the lid to check and move them around as necessary so they don't burn.
7) When they look about done, sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top of each half, and let it melt and brown slightly to pull everything together and cement the stuffing to the zucchinis as you plate them; maybe another 2 or 3 minutes.
Now then, I have a friend who, when I shared an image of the grilled zucchini on my facebook page, said she'd like to make them tonight. But she's a vegetarian and so the bacon will have to go (shedding small tear as I write this). I'd suggest substituting something like tart cherries and/or another mildly hot pepper to funk up the flavor of the stuffing a bit. Cherries and zucchini are a great combination. But really just about any combination of ingredients that you like will make a great stuffing.