Garlic-and-Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes and Zucchini


from the book ‘How to Pick a Peach’ by Russ Parsons

A simple way to stuff a zucchini, this method has the distinct advantage of showing off the squash’s flavor. Baking the squash with small, round tomatoes stuffed with the same mixture adds enough complexity that you can serve this dish as a light summer dinner.

6 servings

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp capers, drained
1/2 pound baguette
1/4 cup loosely packed, coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 salted anchovy filets, rinsed and chopped
3 8-inch zucchini
12 small, round tomatoes

Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until they are lightly browned and fragrant, about 13 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the olive oil and the onion in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, wine, capers and 1/2 tsp salt and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim the crust from the bread and cut the bread into cubes. Place in a blender with the basil and chopped garlic and grind to fine, pale-green bread crumbs. Pour the bread crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in the anchovies and the pine nuts. Set aside.

Cut each zucchini in half crosswise and use a melon baller or serrated spoon to carefully remove some of the flesh from the center to make what looks like a canoe. Leave about 1/4 inch of flesh at the sides and ends and a little more at the bottom. Discard the scooped out flesh. Season the inside lightly with salt and steam over rapidly boiling salted water until almost tender, about 15 minutes.

Cut a slice from the top of each tomato and use the melon baller or spoon to gently
remove most of the pulp. Discard the pulp. Season the inside lightley with salt.

Pour the tomato sauce into a lightly oiled 5-quart gratin dish. Spoon the bread crumb
mixture into the zucchini and tomatoes, mounding it slightly on top. You will need 1 to 2 Tbsp for each zucchini and 2 to 3 tsp for each tomato. Do not press the crumbs, or they will become pasty when cooked. Arrange the zucchini and tomatoes in the gratin dish.

Bake until the vegetables soften and the crumbs are browned, 30-35 minutes. Serve
immediately, or set aside and serve at room temperature.

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