Stuffed Zucchini

Never cooked before? Don't worry, we have a short-cut for the novice in this recipe. If you're experienced in the kitchen, there is also the scratch method.

Also, bear in mind that since this dish mixes dairy products with beef, it's not Kosher.

The basic recipe is enough for two. All you need do is multiply the ingredients to feed more people.


--Issues Photo

You need about 1 pound of ground beef.

4 very large, very fat zucchini squash. They should be of uniform thickness from head to tail (try and avoid the ones that are skinny on one side and thick on the other side).

A handful of rice.

Seasoning

Hampshire Sour Cream from Knudsen (any old sour cream will do in a pinch, but I find the Hampshire seems to taste best).

To make this dish work you must peel the zucchini squash. It simply does not taste right if you leave the skins on. So, get your peeler out and get them down to that light green color with white streaks. Cut off the top and bottom. Then cut the zucchini into four little cylinders. Core them out into a large sauce or stew pan (you could possibly casserole this in the oven, but cooked on the stove top is the way I've always made the meal) so the inside seeds cover the bottom of the pan. Stand the little zucchini cylinders upright around the pan.


--Issues Photo Very front: Peeled, cored cylinders. In back by the pot: The un-peeled zucchini.

Next prepare your beef either the quick way or the custom way:

THE PRE-PACKAGED NOVICE METHOD

The quick way is simple: Lipton's Onion Soup Mix. How much you put in depends on how spicy you like your food. I usually put about a third of a single packet in, dividing the onions and brown powder evenly. So if you are making two or three pounds you can use the entire package. Don't experiment with a romantic evening date! Try this out on your own and adjust the amount of onion soup as needed to fit your taste, then invite that special someone over for a candle light dinner!

MAKING IT FROM SCRATCH

For the custom way cut up about a quarter of a small onion. Either white or brown onions will do. Dump this over the hamburger meat. Add some salt and pepper to taste. I sometimes use a tad of cinnamon, which adds an interesting flavor to the meat. Just a little tad will do. I also sometimes crack in an egg. This is an option. Other seasonings can work quite well (I tried a little Lawry's Seasoning salt today for the first time, again just a tad) -- always feel free to get creative with any recipe!

Put all your seasoning and, if you want it, the egg over the burger. Then take a palm full of rice. Not a lot. Like 1/8th of a cup or less. Just enough to fit on the palm of your hand. Dump that on top and mix it all together with your fingers until all the ingredients mix thoroughly into the beef.

Now, take small meatball size lumps of beef and start stuffing them into the hollowed out zucchini tubes. Fill them all up. Use any of the meat that is left over to top off the zucchinis. If you really have meat left over (and I did, this time), roll it into little balls and spread them around inside the pan.



--Issues Photo The raw, stuffed cylinders immersed in water inside the pot.

Add enough water to cover the zucchinis right to the top if you can! If you're using a shallow pan, then leave a little room at the top so the liquid won't boil over. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until cooked, adding more water from time to time as it evaporates. Make sure to keep the fire low and check to make sure they aren't burning at the bottom of the pan, and that they always have some liquid boiling away inside the pan.


--Issues Photo

The meal is done when the meat is brown in color -- no longer making a reddish liquid -- and the zucchinis become a nice, even avocado green. That takes about an hour and a half to completely cook. The color of the zucchini is a real indication, if you see streaks of white or yellow they are still not cooked. Except for bits of skin left on the zucchini (which is very dark green) the whole zucchini should be an even, creamy light green color. Like guacamole...inside and out! Make sure there is enough water to keep the meal at least 1/2 covered at all times, including just before you serve them!

Dish the zucchinis on to a plate, include some of the liquid and debris you cored out into the pan. Then top with cold sour cream. Serve it up with a nice, thick, warm bread (we used cheap sliced bread from the refrigerator today). French or Italian bread would be a nice choice. Hot rolls would also be nice, I've used Pillsbury Crescent rolls from time to time. You usually don't need to butter it, just dip it into the juice and let that broth and sour cream soak into the bread. There goes the diet!


Yum!!!





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