We buy most of our fruits and vegetables at our favorite little fruit stand on rue des Abbesses, where the staff is friendly, greets us with big smiles, gets stuff for us from the back, and is always happy to discuss what’s the best seasonal choice and how to prepare it.
So last week, when I saw that they sold little ball-shaped zucchini, I instantly decided to get a few, because anything round and small and cute gets my enthusiastic vote. And of course, what can you do with little round zucchini, if not stuff them with goodies?
I had made similar Quinoa-Stuffed Zucchini a few months ago, filling the shells with quinoa, ricotta and pinenuts, and had enjoyed the process as much as the result. I decided to do something different this time, a non-vegetarian version that would use ground beef instead, which is the traditional way to make French stuffed zucchini.
This was delicious, and very easy to make. The zucchini look so pretty, and the meat and onion filling is a simple but glorious complement. Maxence enjoyed it particularly, and said that this was the best thing I had done in a while. (He’s not quite the soup fan I have become, so I’m afraid he’s been feeling a little deprived.)
Finally, my advice is this: make sure you have leftovers, as this tastes even better the next day.
- 12 medium round zucchini
- 450 g (1 pound) ground beef
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- 2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs, such as Herbes de Provence
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Slice a "hat" off the top of each zucchini, and carve the inside using a melon baller or a sharp-edged teaspoon, reserving the flesh.
- Put the zucchini shells and hats in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon herbs.
- Put into the oven for 15 minutes; this will give the zucchini shells a head start on the cooking.
- Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and fragrant.
- Add the reserved zucchini flesh, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon herbs. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until cooked through. If the zucchini has rendered a lot of juice, drain the mixture in a sieve placed over a bowl
- Add in the ground beef and mix well.
- Take the zucchini shells out of the oven. If some cooking juice has pooled at the bottom of the shells, flip to pour out (the zucchini shells will be hot).
- Divide the filling evenly among the zucchini shells and place the hats on top.
- Return to the oven for 30 minutes.
- Serve with a fresh grating of Parmesan, if desired, and green salad.