Late afternoon Monday post—April Fools!! Pretty clever, huh? No, actually just some software glitches. Anyhoo, forgetting about the fact that we’re more than halfway through the day here (at least on the East coast) l thought we’d start off kinda healthy this week, what with the new month and all and the fact that with the big basketball weekend coming up, it’s very likely we’ll all be indulging in less-than-healthy party fare (will share some great ideas with you for that later this week). So today, let’s talk zucchini boats-lightened up for a truly springy experience!
Zucchini is one of our favorite veggies and I’m always looking for new ways to serve it up—fingers crossed that we’ll be able to grow our own this season (we’ve had kind of disastrous results in the last few years). This scooped out, boat version is the brainchild of Ina Garten. Now, I love, love, love her and her recipes—she has great, creative and home-cook friendly ideas but she is often heavy handed with the butter and oil, which may taste good but aren’t so good for us and turn what could be a sensible side or main dish into a caloric misstep. But that’s easily remedied here. All I did was to drastically cut the oil—which i assure you, you won’t miss at all, I actually prefer the taste and texture this way and the lack of guilt! Ha ha!
You start by cutting the zucchinis in half lengthwise and scooping out the middles to form a little trench. Then once you’ve seasoned them with a little salt and pepper, you brush a small amount of oil all over them and roast them for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, you prepare the easy, cheesy, garlicky breadcrumb mixture which I also cut the oil down in so it’s crunchy, not greasy.
Next, you roast the zucchini—
And then fill ‘em with the breadcrumb mixture to pop them back into the oven to crisp up.
These are great as a weeknight side (maybe even a light vegetarian supper) but pretty enough to serve for a party—and they work hot or at room temperature.
Every bite has that wonderful green springy crunch with just the right balance of crunchy, cheesy goodness! Who cares if temps are in the 30’s?!! It’s April!!
Roasted Zucchini Boats-Lightened Up
Makes 6-8 servings, depending on what you serve them with
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Bake Time for Zucchini: 15-20 minutes, plus another 10 minutes or so for bread crumb filling to bake
6 medium to large zucchini (about 3 pounds)
Olive oil for brushing on zucchini, plus 2 tablespoons in breadcrumb mixture
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Small handful of fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 cup Panko
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Trim the ends off the zucchini and cut down the middle in half the long way. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds to create a small trench. Place the zucchini on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly brush all over with some oilve oil. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper and turn them cut side down. Roast for about 15 minutes, until a fork slides into them but not until they are mushy or soggy.
2. While the zucchini are roasting, make the bread crumbs. In a medium bowl, mix the garlic, parsley, Parmesan and a bit of salt and pepper together. Add the panko and 2 tablespoons of the oil and mix well.
3. Turn the zucchini over and divide the breadcrumb mixture evenly between them, spooning it into each trench. Return the tray to the oven to cook for another 10 minutes until the panko is golden brown and crispy. Serve hot or at room temperature. Actually, even leftover, these are good cold.
Note: Recipe adapted from Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten. I cut down on the oil substantially both on the zucchini and in the breadcrumb mixture. I also left out the fresh basil which would be good in the breadcrumb part—I just didn’t have any on hand.