A healthy side dish from Italian chef Giuliano Hazan. "The tricky part is hollowing out the zucchini without breaking through the skin. The easiest way is to scoop from both ends of the zucchini, then push the insides out. The pulp is not used here but can be made into a delicious pasta sauce or used in a frittata."
3 lb. zucchini
1/2 lb. ground beef chuck
3/4 cup Italian rice for risotto (Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or Arborio)
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb. fresh tomatoes, or 1-1/2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1 medium clove garlic
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Step 1: Cut off the ends of the zucchini, then cut each squash in half crosswise. Use an apple corer (or a dinner knife with a rounded tip) to scoop out the inside of each zucchini, leaving a tube shape with a 1/4" wall. Save the pulp for another meal.
Step 2: Put the ground beef and rice in a mixing bowl. Add the grated nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands, then fill the hollowed-out zucchini with the mixture. Only fill up to about 1/4" from the ends to allow space for the rice to expand as it cooks.
Step 3: Peel and coarsely chop the tomatoes.
Step 4: Peel and finely chop the garlic and put it with the olive oil in a shallow braising pan or a skillet deep enough to accommodate the zucchini. Place the skillet over medium-high heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes and season lightly with salt.
Step 5: Once the tomatoes are bubbling, add the stuffed zucchini, lower the heat to medium, and cook until very tender, 45-50 minutes. If there is still liquid in the pan when they are done, raise the heat and cook, uncovered, until the sauce reduces. Serve hot or at room temperature.
See more recipes from Giuliano Hazan.
Reprinted with permission from Giuliano Hazan's Hazan Family Favorites (2012 Stewart, Tabori & Chang).