You’ve no doubt stuffed a tomato, fat and wide and delicious from the fields around South Jersey. Or maybe you’re a fan of the stuffed potato, creamy and savory. But if that’s where you stop stuffing, you are missing a lot of deliciousness.
Pretty much if a fresh vegetable is big enough and round or round-ish, you can stuff it. Cut it in half, take out some innards, replace with a stuffing of your creative imagination.
This is still fresh local produce season. You can even stuff a vegetable with more vegetables, for goodness’ sake. I mean that literally. Vegetables packed with vegetable stuffing is goodness in taste and in healthy eats.
One of the recipes below is vegetarian, the others contain meat, but don’t have to. Substitute tofu for beef or sausage, add spices or chopped pine nuts or walnuts for protein, or just add slices of hard-boiled egg on the side. You’ll be surprised at how satisfying and tasty stuffed fresh-from-the-field vegetables can be.
Paired with other seasonal veggies, the common pepper delivers new delights
6 medium-sized sweet red peppers (or yellow, if red unavailable)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 Tbls olive oil
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow summer squash, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/3 C finely-chopped green pepper
2 C coarsely-chopped fresh spinach
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 C ready-to-serve long grain and wild rice
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 C shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp salt
3 slices provolone cheese, halved (reduced-fat OK)
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut and discard tops from red peppers and remove seeds. In a 6-qt. stockpot, cook the peppers in boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes; drain and rinse in cold water.
In a large skillet, cook the beef over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking into crumbles, 6-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; pour off pan drippings.
In the same pan, heat oil over medium heat; saute zucchini, yellow squash, onion and green pepper until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add spinach and garlic. Cook and stir until wilted, 1 minute. Stir in cooked beef, rice, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and salt.
Place the red peppers in a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Fill with meat mixture. Bake, covered, until peppers are tender, 35-40 minutes. Top with provolone cheese and bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serves 6.
1 medium yellow summer squash, or a zucchini
1 egg or 1/4 C egg substitute
2 Tbls finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 slices of bread, toasted and cut to bite-sized pieces
Place squash in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover and cook for 7-9 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.
When cool enough to handle, cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and reserve pulp, leaving a 3/8-in. shell. Invert shells on paper towel.
In a small bowl, combine the egg substitute, onion, salt and pepper. Stir in toasted bread cubes and squash pulp. Spoon into squash shells.
Place in an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Makes 2 servings.
TIP: To use this recipe as a breakfast entree, or a heartier evening meal, add 1/2 cup cooked, chopped bacon or sausage or other breakfast meat or meat substitute to the stuffing, or serve with meat on the side.
A green salad completes this aromatic entree
6 medium yellow or red onions, trimmed, peeled, and halved pole to pole (pointy top to bottom roots)
3 Tbls olive oil, divided
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 oz frozen sweet Italian sausage (about 3 links), defrosted, casings removed
½ C chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus more for serving
1 C bread crumbs, divided
4 oz (about 1 C) grated white cheddar, divided
Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange onions cut side up in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Add ½ cup water to the dish, cover tightly with foil, and roast until onions are tender when pierced with a knife, 45 to 50 minutes. Uncover and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, combine the sausage, parsley, ½ cup bread crumbs, and half the cheese in a medium bowl, breaking up sausage as you mix.
When the onions are done, remove the inner layers of each onion half, leaving the outer few layers intact. Transfer removed layers to a food processor; pulse layers until roughly chopped. Add the chopped onions to the sausage mixture and mix until evenly combined. Divide sausage mixture among the onion halves.
Combine remaining cheese, ½ cup bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl and mix with your fingers until evenly combined. Dividing evenly, place the bread mixture on top of sausage mixture. Return dish to oven and bake, uncovered, until tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve topped with parsley leaves. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
By Jean Redstone