Isn’t it annoying this time of year when friends are moaning about the abundant zucchini crop and preparing zucchini bread as if it is the only dish worthy of this delicate squash? Of course if you wait until what was a tender young zucchini turns dramatically into a baseball bat sized lethal weapon overnight, the choices may be limited. Young zucchini freshly plucked in the early morning are the vegetable garden’s gift to the home chef. Zucchini Stuffed with Pesto is the perfect accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats & chicken. Summer entertaining should be effortless and boldly feature the flavors that abound – Zucchini Stuffed with Pesto is a shining example of that.
I have been making this dish for for ages, but if memory serves me (and who knows these days), I believe it was inspired by a New York Times article some years ago in which the zucchini was sliced into halves, the seeds scooped out and dotted with pesto. The idea of creating little zucchini towers, zucchini soldiers standing in a row appealed to me. The seeds of the zucchini are scooped out with a melon baller, forming a little cup to fill with pesto – either store bought pesto or your favorite recipe.
That’s it, really Zucchini Stuffed with Pesto could not be simpler. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some grated Parmigiano, a scattering of pignoli (pine nuts) and you are finished.
Zucchini Stuffed with Pesto can be served hot from the oven or sit at room temperature. The dish is a wonderful addition to a summer buffet table, making an excellent choice for any vegetarian guests. Go ahead, enough with the zucchini bread…use those tender tasty little squash and prepare something that features the best of summer.
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- 6 small to medium sized zucchini, free of blemishes
- ½ cup of prepared or homemade pesto sauce
- 2 Tbs of pignoli or pine nuts
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh basil to garnish the finished dish
- Preheat the oven to 400º and arrange a rack in the center position. Lightly oil a baking dish with some of the extra virgin olive oil.
- Wash and carefully dry the zucchini, trim the top and bottom to create flat edges. Cut each zucchini into 3 equal cylinders and stand them up to rest on a paper towel.
- Using a small melon baller or tiny spoon, scoop out a pocket in the top of each zucchini cylinder, leaving a solid base to support the zucchini and insure that the filling will remain inside the cupped space you have created. Season the insides of the zucchini with a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Using a small spoon fill each of the zucchini towers to the top and carefully arrange in the prepared baking dish.
- Grate some Parmigiano over the top of the zucchini followed by a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. At this point, toss the pignoli nuts over the zucchini cups, and if the overall dish looks dry drizzle a bit more of the olive oil over the top. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender, but not collapsing. Serve immediately or reserve to present at room temperature.