Updated: Aug 21
Stuffed vegetables are a common addition to meals. They are easily purchased, pre-made, at the local épicerie in France. In the US they aren’t easy to find but that isn’t a problem since they are easy to make. Taking a vegetable such as zucchini, peppers (green, red, or yellow), tomato, or onion and cooking them with a stuffing is a distinctive way to enjoy these flavors.
They are often served as a main dish with a side of rice/risotto and a side salad. As a side dish they are served with roast meats, chicken, or as an accompaniment to fish.
They are traditionally stuffed with either meat, cheese, or rice. Since those ingredients are so diverse, they result in three entirely different flavor pallets—great choices when you want to change up your dinners—always nice when you’re tired of eating the same old thing.
Zucchini, because of its flavor, structure, and abundance, is a great vegetable to stuff. When vegetables are stuffed, they first need to be partially pre-cooked so they will be tender when they are stuffed and fully cooked.
Preparing the zucchini
If you choose to use small round zucchini, you need to cut just the top ½“ off and set the top aside. Using a melon baller, scoop out the center pulp leaving the sides and bottom intact.
If you choose to use the long zucchini, first cut off the ends. Then slice the remaining section into two equal portions across the width. Remove the center of the zucchini, leaving an open tube.
To pre-cook the zucchini, you can either place them in your microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until they have softened but still hold their shape. Or, place them into a preheated oven at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes.
Keep ingredients cold until you are ready to use them.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Preheat oven 350°
6 small round zucchinis or 3 long zucchinis,
¾ pound ground beef (use finely ground beef)
1 raw egg
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese (reserve 2 tablespoons)
2 slices fresh bread that you’ve broken up into small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Add the egg to the meat along with parsley, parmesan, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and the bread you’ve shredded. Mix gently to combine, but do not compact the meat.
Place the vegetables in an ovenproof dish with sides.
Fill the vegetables, making sure the stuffing fills the entire zucchini. Place the top on the round zucchini.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the vegetables and continue cooking for 10 minutes, letting the cheese melt.
This recipe can easily be adapted to use in different recipes. Try doubling or tripling the recipe and before cooking, divide the mixture into portions large enough for a meal and freeze. When you want to make a quick meal, thaw one portion and use it to make a quick tomato sauce or meat balls.
Next week, I’ll explain how to prepare peppers, tomatoes, and onions, as well as give you the recipes for a cheese and rice filling.
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