Sausage & Fennel Baked Zucchini

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We are deep into the heart of zucchini season so here is an easy recipe to help you use up your stash of these green squashes. Growing up, baked zucchini was always a summer time staple on our dinner table since year after year my mother’s garden produced baseball bat sized squashes. By the time September rolled around I actually grew to dread seeing another baked zucchini on the table.

But times and tastes have changed and baked zucchini is making a regular appearance on my own family’s dinner table. This version has a Mediterranean flavor with mild Italian sausage and sautéed fennel complimenting the usual breadcrumbs and zucchini filling. I like to use round zucchini since I think they make for a prettier presentation but you can easily substitute any small zucchini that you like. Or if you must, use a baseball bat sized squash and simply cut it into smaller portions before stuffing.

SAUSAGE & FENNEL BAKED ZUCCHINI

6 small zucchini

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 fennel bulb, cored and diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 ppound mild Italian sausage, crumbled

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

  • Scrub the zucchini, trim the ends and pierce with a fork on all sides. Place the zucchini in a steamer basket.
  • Fill a large saucepan (larger enough to hold your steamer basket) with one inch of water and bring to a boil. When the water boils, add the zucchini and steam for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and all to cool.
  • When the zucchini is cool enough to handle, slice in squash in half, or slice off the tops if using round squash, and scoop out the insides leaving 1/4 inch of of flesh. Chop the scooped out filling and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and fennel and saute until soft, 7-9 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.
  • Place the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a separate medium-sized skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook until it is no longer pink 5-7 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crumble up any large pieces. When the sausage is cooked, drain it and add it to the vegetable mixture.
  • Add the tomatoes, breadcrumbs and the zucchini filling to the sausage and vegetables and stir well to combine. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  • Scoop the mixture back into the zucchini shells, heaping the filling to fill. (You may have extra filling which can be placed in a buttered casserole dish and baked alongside the zucchini in the oven).
  • Place the zucchini in an ungreased rimmed baking dish and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top of the zucchini.
  • Bake for 20-25 minute until the cheese has melted and the filling is heated through.

Serves 6

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