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Plated Crispy ZucchiniWell.  We ate like crap this weekend.

I loved it, Jay feels bad about it.

Whatever.

To offset the memory of all the meat/beer/cheese consumed over the past three days, though, allow me to share with you this fun recipe.

It’s stuffed zucchini.  With barley or any kind of grain that you like.  Then, it’s got some Caesar-salad-esque components.  Panko topping instead of croutons.  Raw garlic in the filling.  Parmesan on top.  ANCHOVIES, for heaven’s sake.

It’s vegetarian if you skip the anchovies (but really, don’t), has lots of cheese, and tons of veggies.

Also.  It’s crazy easy and delicious.

Here’s what you need, for 2 portions:

  • 2 small – medium zucchini
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley, cooked according to package directions (1.5 cups cooked, give or take a bit)
  • 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 5 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons panko or regular bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 whole anchovy filets, packed in oil

Just so you know where we’re headed here:  We partially roast the zucchini while we make a filling.  Then we bake it for a few more minutes to reheat everything and make the topping crunchy. Then we have zucchini boats that taste like Caesar salad.  I KNOW!  It’s really great.

Ingredients

First, preheat the oven to 425F and cut off the stem ends of the zucchini and slice each in half lengthwise.  Each person will get 1 whole zucchini, so don’t buy massive ones!  Those have less flavor, anyway.

Halve zucchinis

Use a spoon (this one is a grapefruit spoon and works really well!) to scrape out the insides of the zucchini, leaving a 1/4 inch or so rim.  Save the zucchini flesh.  It’s yummy.  We’ll eat it!

Scoop out zucchini flesh

Place the zucchini boats cut side up in a roasting pan and sprinkle them with salt.  Then, roast them for 10 – 15 minutes while you cook the barley according to package directions.

Lay zucchini emptied to roast

While the barley and zucchini are cooking, let’s make the rest of the filling!  Preheat a skillet to medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil, and roughly chop the reserved zucchini flesh.

Roughly chop zucchini flesh

Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters if they are very large, too.

Halve or quarter tomatoes

Now, add the zucchini and the tomatoes to the pan with a sprinkle of salt.  I had a 2 inch piece of leftover zucchini in the fridge, so I chopped that up too.  You can skip the random vegetable remnant usage though!

Add tomatoes to softened zucchini

Stir the vegetable mixture together for 5 – 8 minutes until soft and slightly dried out.  Turn the heat up if this seems to be taking a long time!  We want most of the liquid from the veggies to evaporate.

Stir filling together in pan to soften

So, we have zucchini roasting, barley boiling, and veggies cooking.  Let’s get our other ingredients ready!  Cut the mozzarella into 1/2 inch cubes and finely mince the garlic.

Chop cheese and raw garlic

Then, add the parmesan and panko together in a bowl.

Parm and panko for topping

And mix it gently with your fingers.

Lightly mix topping

Now we need to have a chat about timing.  It is likely that the zucchini, barley, and veggies won’t get done at exactly the same time.  That’s fine!  When the barley is cooked, let it cool.  When the veggies are soft but not browned, turn the heat off and let them cool as well.  When the zucchini is BARELY browned, remove it from the oven but leave the oven on.  It’ll look like this!

Slightly roasted zucchini

Just let things sit and come to room temperature while you work on everything else.  No biggies!  Grab the anchovies out of the oil and let them drain slightly.

Remove anchovies from jar

Then roughly chop them into little bits!  I love anchovies.

Finely chop anchovies

Once everything is cooked, prepped, and resting, let’s make the filling!  Add the barley, veggie mixture, cheese cubes, raw garlic, and a sprinkle of salt to a large bowl.

Add ingredients to cool slightly in bowl

Stir everything together and taste it.  YUM!  Add more salt if you’d like.

Stir filling together

Then, gently heap the mixture into the zucchini boats.  I used my fingers to help everything stay in place.  Save any leftover filling for lunch tomorrow!

Heap filling into zucchini

Sprinkle the panko/parm mixture evenly over everything, then drizzle the zucchini with the olive oil.

Top filling with panko

Top everything with the anchovy bits.  They add a great burst of salt to the crunchy veggie mixture.

Add anchovy bits to zucchini

Now, bake the zucchini boats for 10 – 15 minutes until the tops are slightly browned and the mozzarella is ooey and gooey inside the filling.

Broil zucchini until crispy

And that’s it!  This has veggies, cheese, and carbs, so I think they’re perfect on their own as a super fun, delicious meal.  The raw garlic and anchovy bits are SO delicious. You’ll absolutely love this – I promise!

Zucchini on a plate

Enjoy these, friends.  We loved them!

Plated Crispy Zucchini

 

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