Tana's Kitchen Secrets
by Tana Ramsay
My mom used to make these, but she stuffed the zucchini with ground meat and grated cheddar cheese over the top. This is great comfort food, and a good way to introduce children to squash. It's also a clever use for late-summer zucchini that have grown fat in the garden. For a larger meal, serve 2 large zucchini rings per person on a bed of rice.
Serves 6 as an appetizer
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Can be made in advance to end of step 3
• 1 large zucchini, trimmed, sliced into 1 inch rings and seeded
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• sea salt and black pepper
For the stuffing
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 1 thyme sprig
• 5 baby zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick disks
• 8 small plum tomatoes, quartered
• 1/3 cup bread crumbs
• 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup chopped almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place the zucchini rings in an ovenproof dish so they fit snugly. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden and quite soft. Keep the oven on.
3. Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Pour the oil into a pan and place over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme and fry gently for 1-2 minutes, then add the zucchini disks and stir until they take on a light color. Toss in the tomatoes and saute for a couple of minutes to break them down a little.
4. Sprinkle half the bread crumbs into the hole in each zucchini ring to soak up any moisture, then divide the stuffing mix between the rings. Sprinkle over the remaining bread crumbs, the Parmesan, and almonds, grind over black pepper and cook in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden.
Zucchini is an incredibly versatile, wonderfully inexpensive vegetable. But, to make the most of its delicate flavor, avoid steaming or—especially—boiling, as these treatments can lead to something that my children call "slimy cucumbers" on the plate! Instead try baking zucchini, as I do here, or saute with chopped shallots, garlic, and bacon. This draws out the moisture in the vegetable and renders it firm and delicious.