Are you ready for a great, make ahead, vegetarian dish? This Stuffed Zucchini with Ricotta is what you are looking for.
Not only is it delicious but these Stuffed Zucchini with Ricotta can be made well ahead of time. Prepare, refrigerate then pop into the oven. All you need to do is pour yourself a drink and relax while dinner cooks itself!
Our busy life
Years gone by there seemed to be all the time in the world. As kids, days were so long that even after school, the afternoon was full of fun and exciting things to do. We would ride our bikes and explore the bush. Go play with the neighboring kids and eat homemade milk ice-blocks. Sometimes, mum would pick us up when school finished and we would spend the afternoon swimming at the creek.
Today, we all seem to be pushed for time. Whether you are working full time or a stay at home parent, a student or retired grandmother, we all seem to be taking on more than we should. There is a notion that if you’re not super busy then you must be lazy. This is a western world problem which for the moment doesn’t seem to have a solution. Firstly we need to try to make things easier for ourselves, take a step back and make a few changes.
This Stuffed Zucchini with Ricotta recipe
Regardless, one thing I don’t want to change is the quality of meals we eat in our home. So, what to do? More often, I find I am preparing meals ahead of time. These Stuffed Zucchini with Ricotta can be prepared up to the baking stage, 12 hours ahead.
Hot tip, if you bought too much ricotta, and you are wondering can you freeze ricotta cheese, the answer is yes!
Just heat the oven, bake and serve with crusty bread. Likewise, these zucchini make a yummy side dish to a steak, roast or piece of chicken. Choose plump zucchini that are tender and firm. Scoop out the pulp with a teaspoon. I found a melon baller made the job a lot easier but use what you have.
Take care not to break the skin – the taste will still be good but it might not look as good.
Is this dish just for vegetarians?
Stuffed Zucchini with Ricotta is one of the many vegetable based Italian dishes so delicious that you won’t even miss the meat. Similarly Zucchini Frittata, Cavatelli and Broccoli or even Eggplant Involtini are all wonderful recipes here on Marcellina in Cucina that celebrate vegetables. And all these recipes are quite simple as well!
Ultimately, if you are looking for a recipe that you can make ahead, this is one to put on the list. Of course, leftovers are delicious the next day, too!
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Stuffed Zucchini with Ricotta
- 6 zucchini about 15cm (6in) long
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup fresh basil finely shredded
- 1 ½ cups fresh ricotta
- 3 tablespoons finely grated pecorino cheese plus extra for sprinkling
- grated rind of half lemon
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- salt and freshly ground pepper
For Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 400 g canned, peeled whole tomatoes pureed in the blender or food processor
- salt to taste
- a little sugar if needed
- Preheat oven 400°F (200°C). Have ready one or two baking trays that will fit the zucchini halves snugly.
- Cut the zucchini half. Using a teaspoon or melon baller remove the pulp from the centre. Be sure to keep the skin intact. Sprinkle the zucchini shells with a little salt. Finely chop the zucchini pulp.
- Heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft but not brown about 5 minutes.
- Add the zucchini pulp and cook until tender.
- Add breadcrumbs and mix well. Remove from heat.
- In a bowl mix together basil, ricotta, pecorino, lemon rind and egg. Add onion/zucchini mixture. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To make the tomato sauce return the frying pan to the heat. Into the frying pan add oil and garlic for the sauce. Fry gently until fragrant. Add the pureed tomatoes and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
- Pour tomato sauce into baking tray/s.
- Using a small spoon filling the zucchini shells with the ricotta mixture and nestle into the tomato sauce.
- Sprinkle over extra grated pecorino.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until zucchini are tender and tops are nicely browned.
- if ricotta seems moist, drain in a sieve for half an hour before using
- top of filling may not completely brown, if this is the case place under the griller (broiler) until nicely golden brown
- these stuffed zucchini can be prepared for baking and refrigerated for up to 12 hours then baked just before serving