Saturday, October 8, 2011

Crocktober: Crock Pot Zucchini Boats with White Bean, Swiss, Tomato and Herb Stuffing

I hear tell of fabled round zucchinis that one can buy at certain places, but since I was unable to find the round variety I just hollowed out your average medium-size zucchini and made a stuffing with white beans, tomato, and parsley. The advantage of using your typical zucchini is that if you cut these into smallish pieces, they would made super cute appetizers.

I don't know what my fascination lately is with stuffing food into other food. Maybe it's just that it's fun to do, cute to look at, or simply convenient. Whatever the motivation may be, stuffing food into other food works marvelously well in the crock pot. Also I (obviously) enjoy crocking things that most people might not think were crockable. This dish cooks much faster than your all-day crock-potters - about 3 hours on low - so it might be better suited as a weekend meal. Of course, like most crock pot recipes, you could also make this in the oven, but that would not be in keeping with the Crocktober theme and therefore I could not tell you about it until potentially much, much later. So I made in a crock pot, and so should you.

This recipe will be easier if you are using a larger crock than my 2-quarter, just in terms of surface area. If you have a bigger one, use that. I stacked mine, which was okay too.
 Obviously a can of beans, plus tomato and onion and pine nuts and all of this can't fit in the shell of one zucchini, but the leftover payout of this recipe - or really, the stuffing that doesn't fit - is a yummy bean salad. Things could be worse. But if you're not into that, I'd halve the stuffing recipe. And if you're making these to be cut up as appetizers, I'd cut down the bean-to-other-stuff ratio, upping the veggies and herbs. If you're serving them this way you might skip the cooking altogether, since of course cooking makes the shells softer.

I zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, scooped out to leave about a 1/4 inch shell
1 tomato, chopped and seeded
1 15.5 oz. can white beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained (I literally used "white beans," but you could use cannellini beans or chickpeas, roughly chopped since they're big)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, finely chopped, packed (I used parsley)
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1 (small) clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (about 2 oz.)
Salt and pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Olive oil

1. In a large bowl, combine tomato, beans, onion, pine nuts, parsley, about a tablespoon of olive oil, plenty of salt and pepper, and Swiss cheese, if you're using it.
2. Spray or lightly oil your crock pot insert. Be sure that your zucchini will fit in the crock. If the boats need to be shortened, it is much simpler to do so at this point than to do it after stuffing.
3. Spoon stuffing into the zucchini "boats," packing slightly, and rest them inside the crock. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
4. Carefully remove from crock and serve. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if desired.

A note about hollowing out the squash: It may seem like the best way to do this is to just take a spoon and scoop straight down the length of it, but it seems to me that there's a more effective way that is less likely to lead to dreaded Squash Breakage. Take a large spoon - like a soup spoon, not like a "Little Dipper" spoon - and take off just a thin strip from all the way down the pulpy section. Then, using the same spoon or a teaspoon, position the scooper parallel to the edge of the "boat" and scoop starting at the edge and moving toward the center. You can smooth it out afterward, but trying to take it all out at once will probably not work out very well.

Making this stuffing would have been a lot faster if I had my food processor here rather than in Western Massachusetts. If you've got one, mince the garlic and onion with the parsley, salt and pepper and oil, then add the tomato (halved and guts scooped out), and finally the nuts and beans, which you can chop or not chop.

About 2 hours in, I realized that these were not as cheesy as I would have liked, so I sprinkled more on top to melt in the remaining cooking time, which worked out fine. Obviously it didn't take a whole hour for the cheese to melt, so you could do this at the last minute if you wanted to. It's not pictured, but I did end up adding Balsamic, which I think was a good call.

These were tasty! Just the right amount of richness, with the Swiss cheese and pine nuts, and very satisfying. Next spring and summer I think I'll be making the no-cook version on the regular.

Quote of the Day: Vulgarity is the garlic in the salad of life. ~ Cyril Connolly

No comments:

Post a Comment