Baked Zucchini with Turkey Stuffing and Tomato Sauce
Serves 4 to 6
I absolutely love the flavor of ground turkey and often use it in recipes in which I first used ground beef, such as this stuffed zucchini. Besides being delicious, it is also lighter, as long as you use lean ground turkey. I prefer 93% lean because it has great flavor, but you can use a leaner grind. You can use this same stuffing for any summer squash, peppers or eggplant. Despite the number of ingredients, this is an easy and healthy main dish.
- 6 to 8 medium zucchini, about 2 pounds
- 1/2 small onion, grated (about 1/4 cup with its juices)
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons plain tomato sauce, homemade or canned
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 4 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1 cup finely chopped reserved zucchini centers
- 1/4 cup dried unseasoned breadcrumbs, preferably homemade
- 1 pound ground turkey, preferably 93% lean
- 2 cups homemade or store-bought marinara sauce (see notes below)
- Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400° F. Remove the ends from the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Using a sharp-edged spoon, gently scoop some of the flesh from the center of the zucchini, end to end, to form a boat, leaving about 1/4 of the flesh with the skins. Chop enough of the scooped out flesh to equal 1 cup and reserve.
To prepare the stuffing, whisk together the onion, garlic, egg, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, parsley and basil in a large bowl. Sir in 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, the Romano, chopped zucchini and breadcrumbs. Add the turkey and combine well. (If you want to check the seasoning, take a little piece of the mixture, form into a small patty, and cook in a small skillet or in the microwave until cooked through. Adjust seasonings as desired.)
Lightly coat a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with olive oil or olive oil spray. Fill each zucchini half with the turkey mixture, mounding as needed and pressing down lightly to ensure it does not fall out. Place in the baking dish. Pour the marinara all over. Drizzle all over with a little more olive oil. Bake until the turkey is thoroughly cooked, 50-60 minutes. If uncertain, an instant read thermometer inserted into the stuffing should read 165° F. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and bake 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes, before serving. All you need to make this a meal is some crusty bread.
Notes: If you do not have marinara sauce on hand and want a quick fix, just use one can (14.5-ounces) whole tomatoes, crush the tomatoes with your fingers, add some of the tomato sauce to the juices to thicken slightly, and season lightly with salt, pepper and basil. Mix it all together and you have marinara sauce. It will be equal to about 2 cups.