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Stuffed Zucchini a Colonoscopy Tale

stuffed zucchini

Stuffed zucchini. Let me apologize in advance if that becomes a distasteful metaphor in the story I’m about to tell. Because stuffed zucchini is a bit of well-timed cookery from Russ Parsons at the LA Times. In today’s Saturday section The California Cook column is dedicated to “every gardener’s secret September shame”. The monster zucchini.

We’ve all heard stories about that neglected little squash nestled into the back of the garden. It’s green and well formed and you plan to pick it real soon and use in a stir-fry. Really you do. But that will have to wait until later– a little binge TV seems a better way to pass a hot September afternoon. I know you know where this story is going so I won’t bother to finish. Besides my version is no funnier than Russ’ (or your Aunt Trudy’s) version. They all end with a monster zucchini as big as your (fill in the blank).

It may be a familiar story, but it does have a ring of truth to it. That’s why it gets repeated by gardeners everywhere this time of year. However, my story is not about gardening. It’s about my upcoming colonoscopy. It’s the reason the idea of stuffed zucchini was a little bit funny to me.

Humor aside (I do hope you’re laughing) Russ Parsons’ stuffed zucchini is actually quite well-timed for me. That’s the honest reason I chose it for my dinner this evening.

There comes a certain time in life when your doctor starts talking about new things. Things you’d never really considered before. Sure you’d heard the word colonoscopy, and you know perfectly well what it is. You may even be old enough to remember when Katie Couric had one live on the Today Show. In which case you’re old enough to start discussing the “C” word with your doctor, I certainly am.

Maybe you’re thinking that this story has no place on a food blog. The whole idea seems a bit unpleasant, I know. However when discussing the “C” word with your doctor the food you eat is an important part of that discussion. It’s also why the phrase stuffed zucchini struck me as more than just funny.

You see, starting tomorrow I have to (temporarily) give up “all foods that are high in fiber or hard to digest”. This includes: whole grains, nuts, seeds, bran, popcorn, salad, most meat and ALL fruits and ALL vegetables. I honestly have no trouble temporarily giving up whole grains, nuts, seeds, bran, popcorn, or salad. Even meat is no big deal. I often go days on end without eating meat. But fruit AND vegetables? I have worked hard to train myself onto a diet that is predominately fruit AND vegetables, so I had to read the restrictions several times to really get it through my head. Talk about hard to digest.

So that’s how farro and red pepper stuffed zucchini came to be the last substantive meal I plan to have before my date with a laser-equipped camera next week. I can’t think of a better final passage than stuffed zucchini (yeah that’s a joke). GREG

stuffed zucchini

 

 

Zucchini Stuffed with Farro, Red Pepper and Feta

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Source Russ Parsons Los Angeles TimesPublished

The original recipe called for pine nuts, I changed that to pistachios.

Zucchini stuffed with farro, red pepper and feta

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup farro
  • 6 pinch kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 3 large zucchini (about ¾ pound each)
  • 1 onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (cored, seesed and chopped)
  • ¼ cup chopped basil (plus more for topping)
  • ¼ pound mushroom (chopped)
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • ½ cup crumbled feta (plus more for topping)
  • 1 cup water (or as needed)

Directions

Cook farro in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 5‑quart gratin dish with olive oil.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and use a melon baller or serrated spoon to remove the insides of the zucchini to make what looks like a canoe. If using a melon baller, use the large scoop to remove most of the pulp in balls and then the small scoop to smooth the sides. Leave about one-quarter inch of the flesh at the sides and a little more at the bottom. Collect the pulp on a cutting board and chop coarsely.

Season the inside of the zucchini boats lightly with salt and steam over rapidly boiling water until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini pulp and basil and cook until dry, about 10 minutes.

6. Increase the heat to high. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until dry. Set aside to cool.

7. Stir the cooked farro, pistachio and feta into the cooled vegetable mixture. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out zucchinis, mounding on top. It will take 4 to 6 tablespoons per zucchini half.

Arrange the stuffed zucchini in the gratin dish; they may fit quite tightly. Sprinkle the tops with more crumbled feta. Pour the water into the baking dish so it just covers the bottom. Bake until the tops have browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Drizzle the top of each zucchini with a little more olive oil, transfer to a serving platter and scatter over more slivered basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.