Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini With Pasta

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Stuffed zucchini with pasta
Stuffed zucchini with pasta

My family is not a huge fan of casseroles.  I think it is because everything tends to have a similar texture of well cooked and a bit soft after spending an hour or more in the oven.  If I serve it with a creative salad and crusty bread I can usually make everyone happy.  Stuffed zucchini with penne pasta is a bit of a twist on my go to family casserole that everyone does like.  It uses Italian sausage (mild or spicy, up to you - we love spicy), crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic and herbs, and lots of pot cheese.

Hollowing out the zucchini
Hollowing out the zucchini

Stuff the zucchini with the sausage and nestle into the pasta
Stuff the zucchini with the sausage and nestle into the pasta

Adding in some of the fresh spring zucchini I have been getting in my CSA box was delicious but I will admit it didn't make my 2 youngest kids who are not crazy about zucchini sudden converts.  They still like the sausage and pasta and sauce the best - but the rest of us liked all of it.  This is a great way to use zucchini without venturing too far out of my family's comfort zone, and it leaves the zucchini big and easy to avoid if you really dislike it.  All we ever ask of the kids is to try one bite and move on if you don't care for it.

Ready to go into the oven
Ready to go into the oven

Make sure you cook this thoroughly.  Look for the center to be bubbling and everything is sizzling hot and completely done before you take it out of the oven.  Depending on the the size of your casserole dish this can take a while so plan for at least an hour in the oven, up to an hour and a half.

Stuffed Zucchini With Pasta
This casserole can be assembled ahead of time and then baked. It does take a long time to cook through so be sure to allow an hour - hour and half for the cooking time.
  • 4 cups half cooked pasta of your choice (I like penne)
  • 3 spring zucchinis, cut into 4 pieces (12 total)
  • 3 garlic scapes, the bulb and the tender green (about 3 inches), diced
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup pot cheese
  • 1 lb Italian sausage

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 (F). Cook your pasta for only half the cooking time, drain and put into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Set this aside.
  2. Into a large measuring cup or bowl, add the crushed tomatoes, the diced garlic scapes (if you do not have these, mince 3 cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of diced onion instead), the water, salt and fresh thyme. Set this aside.
  3. Wash, remove the ends and cut your zucchini into approximately 2 inch lengths. Hollow out the zucchini and save the inside bits. Dice up those inside bits finely and add them to the tomato mixture, stirring it all together well.
  4. Stuff the zucchini tubes with the sausage, filling them in from both ends. Nestle the stuffed zucchini in the pasta. If there is any leftover sausage roll it into small balls and dot it around the zucchini in the baking dish.
  5. Cover the sausage, zucchini and pasta with the tomato mixture, spooning over the top evenly.
  6. Drop teaspoonfuls of the pot cheese (ricotta or cottage cheese will work too) over the top of the tomato mixture. Bake in the oven uncovered for 75 - 90 minutes, until the center is bubbling and all of the sausage is fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings