Of all the recipes I have tried during our summer membership with a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) or farm-share, my favorite is a fresh, tasty recipe for Grilled Zucchini Boats. I got the idea by flipping through one of my cooking magazines. With beautiful green zucchini, deep purple-red onion and red and yellow cherry tomatoes-all fresh from the farm, I was looking for something interesting to do with all of these items. The recipes I have seen for stuffed zucchini or zucchini boats are generally cooked in an oven. Temperatures were holding strong in the 90s in Philadelphia, which meant that it was not much cooler in our kitchen. Turning on the oven in our home is not an option in 90 plus degree heat, so I decided that the zucchini boats would have to be cooked outside on the grill.
For the filling, I simply sauteed the ingredients on low heat indoors and then filled the boats to be grilled outdoors. The result was undeniably delicious. What would normally be a tasty dish anyway turned into an even more flavor-packed creation by using the grill. The smokiness from the grill penetrated the entire dish creating a rich, intense flavor.
Grilled Zucchini Boats
2 medium green zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil Dash of crushed red pepper 1/4 cup red onion, diced 1 garlic clove, grated
Pulp or inside of zucchini 1/2 cup red and yellow grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp tomato sauce, prepared or homemade
4 basil leaves, slice in long, thin ribbons
Cooking spray 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 1 oz. feta cheese crumbles
1. Remove the inside flesh of each zucchini half with a melon baller, scooping out little balls to create a cavity within the zucchini. Make sure the outer edge is at least a half inch thick, so it stands up to the heat of grill without falling apart. Dice the balls of zucchini.
2. Heat a drizzle (or 2 tbsp) of extra virgin olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once heated through, add a dash of crushed red pepper and the diced onion. Saute the onion on low heat until slightly caramelized-about 7 minutes. Then add the zucchini and garlic. Mix well and continue to saute on low heat for another 7 minutes.
3. Add in the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes. Turn heat off and add the basil and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese (reserve the remaining for the topping).
4. With a spoon fill each zucchini boat with the filling. On a heated grill, place a large strip of aluminum foil coated with cooking spray on the grill. Place the zucchini boats on the foil, close the grill and cook on medium to low heat for 25 minutes or until tender. Adjust heat if the zucchini browns to quickly on the bottom.
5. Add 1/4 cup of the mozzarella and feta cheese crumbles on top of the zucchini boats. Continue cooking on low until the cheese is melted.
6. Serve with grilled chicken, a pesto pasta or a green summer salad with crusty Italian bread.
With the zucchini season at its height, pick up plenty of these as they will likely be priced low. Add this recipe to your summer repertoire!