08 September 2013

Zucchini boats « au fromage de chèvre »

A while back we saw a French cooking show on which the host prepared zucchini ‘boats’ — courgettes farcies — stuffed with ricotta and parmesan cheese, along with pine nuts (pignons de pin). We had a good crop of zukes this summer, so we made those, and they were delicious.

Zucchini boats stuffed with ricotta, parmesan, and pine nuts

The zucchini kept coming and we were having a hard time keeping up... isn't that the eternal story of growing summer squash? You almost always end up harvesting many more than you know what to do with. We had a surplus, as we had a cucumber surplus too.

I had an idea for a variation on the ricotta/parmesan stuffing for squash. What about goat cheese? Here we are in the Loire Valley, where some of the best goat cheeses in the world are produced: Selles-sur-Cher, Valençay, Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, and more.

Our local Intermarché has a whole refrigerated case full of locally made goat cheeses at all stages of ripeness and in all sorts of shapes. The cheeses go from spreadable, cream-cheese-like chèvre frais, to slightly riper and more crumbly chèvre demi-sec, and all the way to nearly rock-hard dry, aged chèvre sec (with « Je suis sec ! » stamped on the label).

Here's my goat cheese and walnut version of the stuffed zucchini, ready for the oven.

I figured a soft fresh goat cheese could stand in for Italian ricotta, and a hard dry goat cheese, grated, could stand in for grated parmesan. The soft cheese gives consistency and background flavor, and the hard cheese gives a stronger but pleasant up-front flavor to the stuffing. Instead of pine nuts, we decided to use walnuts, and rather than mix them in we studded the top of each stuffed courgette with them.

Here's the recipe I based the goat-cheese stuffed zucchini boats on:

Zucchini ‘boats’ with cheese stuffing

3 large summer squash
250 g ricotta or fresh goat cheese
1 medium onion
80 g parmesan or hard goat cheese, grated
Toasted pine nuts or walnuts to taste
1 egg
Salt to taste
Olive or walnut oil for the baking dish

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350ºF.

Wash the squash and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the center of each squash half to make 'boats' out of them. Chop the scooped-out flesh and dice the onion. Sauté that mixture on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes to evaporate some of the moisture in the vegetables.

Toast the pine nuts or chopped walnuts if you're going to mix them into the stuffing. If you plan to put them on top, they will toast in the oven as the stuffed zucchini cook.

Mash the soft cheese and mix in the grated hard cheese. Add the egg and mix well. When the sauteed onion and squash flesh has cooled down, mix it into the cheese stuffing.

Fill each zucchini boat with the cheese stuffing. Film a baking pan with olive or walnut oil, and drizzle some over the top of each stuffed boat. Put the dish in the oven for 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve hot.

19 comments:

  1. Wonderful Ken...
    I'll try this tonight with Yellow Crooknecks and Ice Ball as the boats.

    We have Elaine Borish's "What will I do with all those courgettes?" to give us inspiration...
    And Beret Greene in "Greene on Greens" is very good too!

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  2. Looks great! I'll have to give this a try.
    Bon dimanche!

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  3. Zucchini is always a challenge. I made a zucchini quiche recently and will be trying a zucchini galette from Patricia Wells soon. Your boats look delicious.

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  4. YUMMY....I'll be trying these too...thanks Ken.

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  5. They are so beautifully browned. They look delicious. Is this your favorite way to cook zucchini?

    Cook's Illustrated magazine suggests oiling the zucchini halves and baking them cut side down while you are sauteing the stuffing. Doing that made a big improvement in my stuffed zucchini; the boats had better flavor and were more tender.

    I am always up for learning something new in cooking.

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  6. I like Carolyn's idea for baking the boats for a little while before stuffing. I never get tired of zukes.

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  7. Bonjour, Ken.
    Très bonne idée de farcir "les bateaux" avec du fromage de chèvre (que j'adore). Nous allons essayer ta recette cette semaine. Larguez les amarres!

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  8. It's a good thing you guys are so active, otherwise you'd both weigh about three hundred pounds with the amount of food you consume.

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  9. Some panko on top would be nice too! Est-ce c'etait bon?

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  10. Cooks Illustrated is so helpful! They are great at trying out recipes in a variety of ways, to find what they think is the most successful. I'd maybe follow that suggestion, too... but, Ken! You and Walt loved yours without doing that, so, what do you think?

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  11. Those look terrific.
    I think I'm the only person on the planet who has trouble growing zucchini. The crop is always puny.

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  12. I am sure that precooking the zucchini halves would be a good way to do it, if you want the zucchini really tender. They might collapse, though. Raw zucchini boats and their stuffing will cook through at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. Cooking is always an experiment.

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  13. Oui, Nadège, c'était très bon. On en refera.

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  14. Chris, I know other people in the Bay Area who have trouble growing zucchini. Climate?

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  15. Starman, it is all about portion control. And daily exercise.

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  16. Well, darn it, you have already missed the official "Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch" day! That is August 8. (http://allrecipes.com/howto/sneak-some-zucchini-onto-your-neighbors-porch-night/) Your recipe reminds me of an occasion that happened when I was living in Atlanta. Paul Prudhomme was promoting his Louisiana Kitchen cookbook. The local department store, Davison's, had a wonderful restaurant. K-Paul came and made Seafood Stuffed Zucchini with Seafood Cream Sauce. It was pretty neat to be able to order it on the menu that day and know who was in the kitchen preparing it! I think the year was 1984 but I still remember how good it was!

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  17. Looks and sounds delicious. Can you freeze the extras for later reheating, or is it cook-and-eat all at once?

    Emm

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  18. Emm, we didn't, but yes, you can freeze these after they are cooked.

    Carolyn, another way I've prepared stuffed zucchini is to blanch or briefly poach the zuke halves before scooping out the flesh to make the stuffing.

    Margaret, Walt just grates raw zukes in the food processor and then freezes that. Then we use it to make soup oa a quiche in wintertime. Works well.

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