Attractive stuffed vegetables dress up any fish or dairy meal, and their petite size is ideal for your next hors d’oeuvre platter. You don’t have to wait for small, spring vegetables; a mature zucchini or yellow squash cut in quarters, mushroom caps, and year-round small tomatoes are perfect. I like to use a small melon-baller to scoop out the interior flesh, but if you do not have one, a demitasse spoon gives you the control you need to keep the vegetable cups from breaking. You’ll be delighted with how they look, and certainly pleased with how they taste! (If you want to make them pareve or are lactose intolerant, leave out the parmesan cheese and add a pinch or two of your favorite fresh herbs.)
What you need:
Melon baller or small spoon
Medium size bowl
Non-stick sauté pan
Small baking dish that doubles as a serving dish
1 large zucchini, washed and dried
1 large yellow squash, washed and dried
8 medium to large button mushrooms, cleaned
6 large cherry tomatoes
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ to ¾ cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 T. Parmesan for topping off the stuffed vegetables
Olive oil for sautéing
1 tsp. butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Dash of cayenne, optional
What you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off both ends of the zucchini and do the same with the yellow squash. Cut each into four pieces (each about two inches long). Place any leftover pieces in the bowl. Using a small spoon or a melon baller, scoop out about ¾ of the interior from each piece. Do not get too close to the bottom; you want a nice, little cup. Set the carved-out squash pieces aside. Chop the pulp, along with any leftover pieces of squash, and place in the bowl.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Set the caps aside. Chop the stems and add them to the bowl with the squash. Carefully remove the top of each tomato. Scoop out the seeds and most of the pulp. Set the tomato cups aside.
Heat the olive oil in the non-stick sauté pan. Add the shallots, and sauté just for a minute. Do not let them burn. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute at most. Add the butter (or other fat) to the pan, along with the chopped zucchini and mushroom mixture. Sauté until all the moisture has evaporated, about six minutes. Add the fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste, sauté briefly to blend the flavors. Transfer the mixture back into the bowl, allow to cool, then stir in the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
In the sauté pan, melt about one teaspoon of butter and gently sauté the mushroom caps until they are just softened. Set aside.
Place the squash cups in the sauté pan, scooped side up, and add just enough water to steam them until they are slightly softened. You can slightly cover the pan. Do not overcook them. You just do not want them to completely raw before creating and baking the stuffed cups.
Fill each vegetable cup with the stuffing. Arrange the filled cups in the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and freshly round pepper. Sprinkle with dash of cayenne if desired. Pour about half an inch of stock into the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the reaming tablespoon of Parmesan over the tops.
Bake for about 15 minutes. They may take longer, depending on how soft the squash and mushrooms were before being stuffed. Check on them after 15 minutes, and add a bit more stock if necessary to prevent scorching.
Serve with a large spoon and a dinner fork to hold the cups intact. Enjoy!
By Lisa Reitman-Dobi