Dressed To Impress: Spinach-Stuffed Zucchini Cups

Got zucchini? Well, here in the Lowcountry it isn’t quite peak time yet for this muti-purpose vegetable but with the balmy weather I am anticipating a bumper crop for local farmers and home gardeners alike. Come June (maybe late May this year?) there should be a regular zucchini-palooza in my county and I will be looking for new, delish ways to prepare this veggie by July 4th. You can only make (and consume) so much zucchini bread, sauteed squash and cheesy squash casserole in a summer.

Southerners are genuinely generous and Southern gardeners especially are apt to leave a grocery bag of just-plucked goodies on their neighbor’s front porch or co-worker’s desk – a happy surprise that never wears out it’s welcome at my house. But what to do with all that zucchini? Well, here’a a easy-to-prepare recipe that’s dressed to impress – and tastes darn good too.

Tip: Straight zucchini that are all about the same size work best in this dish, both in presentation and to allow even cooking.

Making "cups" with zucchini is easy. A small spoon will work to scoop out the core as will a melon-ball tool. Try not to break through the bottom of the "cup".

Fairly simple and short list of ingredients for this filling.

Adding the ricotta to the eggs. A whisk work great.

Mix in the spinach, the grated Parmesan and the seasonings.

Butter crumbs: Melt some butter in a bowl, add fresh bread crumbs and voilà "butter crumbs". I use the end slices of bread loaves - we call them the heel - for crumbs.

Butter crumbs: I usually have a bag of these in my refrigerator ready to top casseroles, mac-n-cheese or as a crust for oven-fried pork chops.

Sprinkle the butter crumbs over all the zucchini cups or simply dip into the crumbs.

Ready for the oven!

Out of the oven, all cheesy spinachy good with a crunchy top of butter crumb. This recipe makes at least 8 servings of filling, just use more zucchini. Or use your leftover filling to stuff sweet Vidalia onions!

Spinach-Stuffed Zucchini with Butter Crumbs

  • (1) 16 oz. package frozen spinach or fresh (enough for 1-½ cups cooked, chopped spinach that has been squeezed dry)
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (light or whole milk)
  • 2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. salt plus extra
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 5-6 medium zucchinis, washed and dried
  • Butter crumbs (see below)

If using frozen spinach cook according to package instructions, cool and drain. Squeeze out as much water as possible. I use paper towels.

Prepare zucchini by either slicing them the long dimension in half or cutting into 1 ½” pieces to make ‘cups’. Either way, scoop out the core of the zucchini avoiding breaking through to the bottom. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, add the ricotta and the Parmesan. Mix in the spinach and the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Fill each zucchini cup or boat with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with butter crumbs* (or dip the cups into the crumbs as I did, whatever is easiest).

Place in a lightly oiled baking pan, cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-8 minutes until the tops are browned.

Left over filling can be refrigerated for 3 days. This filling is delicious stuffed in fish fillets like sole, flounder or even salmon or stuffed into other vegetables like Vidalia onions and baked.

*Butter Crumbs: Toast 2  slices of your favorite lunch bread (I use the heel). Grind in a food processor to a fine crumb. Melt 1 Tbl. butter in a bowl in the microwave. Toss the crumbs in the melted butter. That’s it. I store the butter crumbs in a plastic zip baggie in the frig.

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