B.C. Beef & Herb-stuffed Zucchini (Serves 2-4)

Supplied by Judie Steeves
This looks quite dramatic so it’s great for company. You can use any size of zucchini, but I think this is a good recipe for those ones that got away on you from the garden. There’s not much room for stuffing the little guys and we treat this as a complete meal.

1 foot-long zucchini
1/2 lb. (227 g) lean ground B.C. beef
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. (15 ml) chives
1 tbsp. (15 ml) parsley
2 tsp. (10 ml) lemon thyme
1 tsp. (5 ml) fresh oregano
1 tsp. (5 ml) fresh tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp. (45 ml) white wine
grated Swiss cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise to form two long ‘boats.’ Use a spoon to remove the pulp from the centre of the vegetable, making sure you don’t pierce the outer skin. Leave a shell of at least a half-inch all around. Chop the pulp, onions and mince the garlic. Use whatever herbs you have fresh that sound as if they’d be good. It’s important there be a total of at least three tablespoons of fresh herbs, though. Mince them. Gently heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frypan or wok and add the ground beef and onions, then the garlic.

Cook until the beef has changed colour and the onions are limp, adding the chopped zucchini pulp part way through. When the pulp has cooked down and there’s little juice left in the pan, add the herbs and wine and continue stirring and cooking until there’s just enough moisture left for the stuffing to stick together. Salt and pepper each shell and stuff with the meat mixture. Grate Swiss cheese, or a combination of Swiss and mozzarella over the top and place the zucchini ‘boats’ in a pan with about a half-inch of water in the bottom. Roast for about half an hour, until the cheese has browned on top.

Serve on a platter or serving board.

For a vegetarian version, omit the meat and substitute any other vegetables you’d like, including lentils or black beans, more onion, chopped celery or tomato, and combine it with cooked rice before stuffing.

For a richer version, add a thick bechamel (white) sauce to the top of the meat stuffing before the grated cheese.