Monday, July 21, 2008

Stuffed Zucchini and Basic Tomato Sauce

I think nobody cooks Italian like Mario Batali does. This was such a great tasting recipe, but I did make changes to it. Below you'll find the original recipe just in case you want to try the original.

I used basil instead of mint. Mint just didn't sound right to me, and I don't like mint all that much anyway.

I used sausages that I had at home instead of lamb which turned out to be really really good.

You could probably prepare this recipe without any meat at all, and it should make a nice vegetarian side dish.

STUFFED ZUCCHINI

Ingredients:

4 medium zucchini
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound ground lamb, crumbled
2 eggs
1 bunch fresh mint leaves, picked but left whole
1 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Trim the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon or melon baller, remove the flesh making a canal down the center of each zucchini half, leaving 1/4-inch all around and the ends closed. Roughly chop the excess zucchini flesh and set aside.

In a 10 to 12-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil until just smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the zucchini pieces and crumbled lamb and cook until the lamb is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain the fat from the lamb mixture and place in a large mixing bowl.

Add the eggs, half of the mint leaves and the tomato sauce and mix well. Season both the mixture and the zucchini boats with salt and pepper. Stuff the lamb mixture into the zucchini boats and pile it high.

Place in an oven-proof baking dish just large enough to hold all the zucchini and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp on top, and remove. Serve warm or at room temperature and sprinkle with remaining mint leaves.

BASIC TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4 inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt, to taste

Directions:
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often.

Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.

This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups

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