My son's girlfriend brought over these huge zucchinis from her Mom and Dad's garden. I love zucchini but these bad boys were big! I thought about frying them in slices and making some kind of spicy dipping sauce but I just hated to take those big beauties and fry them. Then I thought about the stuffed peppers I made and thought that the stuffing would work so well using the zucchini in place of the peppers. I mean the stuffing already has gated zucchini in it so I knew the flavors would be awesome. Plus it was taking a nice fresh veggie and keeping it on the healthy side. My stuffing uses turkey sausage and low fat cheese.
When I ran the idea by the rest of my housemates everyone thought it sounded like a winner so that was enough for me, the decision was made. Then with Kevin's father having to be placed in a nursing home, and us wanting to be there at mealtimes as much as possible so we can make sure he is eating, The ingredients just sat in my refrigerator. To be honest when I pulled them out last night was afraid that they wouldn't be usable anymore and I would be making a trip to the store. But I wouldn't be able to replace those big beautiful zucchinis. I crossed my fingers and pulled them out of the fridge. Yesssss they were fine, just like I first got them, thank you Lord!!!
They came out better than I ever could have expected, they really did! I wish now I had made more. I just cooked the two large (extra large) zucchinis halved. So I had leftover stuffing. The original recipe was enough stuffing for 6 bell peppers so if you have 6 zucchinis it would be perfect. I also subbed yellow squash for the zucchini in my original recipe because I was already stuffing zucchini I wanted something else in the mix.
Like I said, these came out so much better than I could have ever imagined. Kevin loves my stuffed peppers and he said he may just like these even more. Wow now I am in competition with myself! I love it!!
Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
6 large zucchinis
1 (28-ounce) can of Italian tomatoes
2 medium yellow squash, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup low fat mozzarella for the topping
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, plus and extra cup for baking.
1 1/2 orzo (rice shaped pasta)
1 pound turkey sweet Italian sausage ( I used Jennie-O)
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Pour the tomatoes in a large bowl and break apart using your fingers or potato masher. Add the squash, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
Bring the 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook to package instructions. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the vegetables, reserving the chicken stock. Stir to combine the orzo and veggies and pour the chicken stock into a 3 quart baking dish.
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of each zucchini, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh in each one. If zucchinis will not stand up use a knife to shave off a bit of the bottom to make it even. Set zucchinis into baking dish with all of the chicken stock.
Mix 1 cup Pecorino Romano with the 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves. Set asaide.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumble and brown the turkey sausage until it is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and minced garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the orzo mixture and cook for about a minute to warm. Remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into the zucchinis. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle each zucchini boat with the cheese parsley mix. Return to oven and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Remove from the oven and allow the zucchinis to cool about 5 minutes before serving.