I’m roasting some of the garden tomatoes today while I’m housebound with the roofers who are stomping and banging all over the rooftop. Oh, wait, one of them just turned on way-too-loud radio, so I won’t be reading that half-finished novel. I didn’t think I’d be using the tomatoes today, until I looked in the vegetable bin and saw those two big zucchinis I picked up a few days ago. Pair that with the pound of ground beef I mindlessly took out of the freezer and some cheese in the fridge, and all of a sudden dinner puts itself together, sort of.
I’m keeping out a couple of fresh tomatoes to add to the filling so there is a combination of tomato flavors, fresh and roasted. No, my husband does not like tomatoes, but he tolerates me, because if we never ate some of the things he says he hates, cooking and eating would be no fun. After 20 years of eating mushrooms, for example, he declared last year that he can’t stand them anymore. I don’t think we had a mushroom all summer, but they will be coming back in the fall and winter, and he can just pick them out. But today, the tomatoes are in.
I could have made the entire meal on the grill, but the roofers are also doing the patio roof above the grill and making some mess, so it’s all indoors today. A few things make this meal easy to prepare:
- Yes, it takes time to roast tomatoes, but your time is free while they sit in the oven. I like the one-hour roasting, but you could turn down the temperature and make it go all morning.
- The tomatoes are seasoned for roasting, so you don’t need to add anything more than salt and pepper to the filling when putting it together.
- When you scoop out the zucchini seeds (I forgot to take that picture), put the shells in the microwave for a few minutes to precook them, ensuring that they will be done when the topping is browned.
Roasted Tomato Stuffed Zucchini
Preheat oven to 375°; line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
6-12 tomatoes (keep two out for the filling without roasting)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried or fresh thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt
- Core tomatoes and cut in half, crosswise. Seed tomatoes if needed. Many of my San Marzano tomatoes were so meaty that seeding would have been a waste of time. I did seed the few round tomatoes.
- Place tomato halves on sheet pan.
- Sprinkle minced garlic over all.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Sprinkle fresh or dried thyme and sea salt over all.
- Roast for about an hour or until the tomatoes are to your liking. I do like mine a little charred on the edges and concentrated, so I left mine in longer in a 300° oven.
- Remove tomatoes to cooling rack over paper towels or parchment paper.
- Tomatoes can be stored at this point in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
Preheat oven to 375°-400°; drizzle olive oil on bottom of large baking dish.
2 large zucchini
1 lb ground beef
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
6-8 roasted tomato halves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Halve the zucchini lengthwise and trim off the stems. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. I leave in most of the flesh, but some people scoop down to the shell and diced the flesh to use in the filling. I did not use the scooped out seeds.
- Place the zucchini shells on a plate and microwave for about 2 minutes or longer to precook them.
- Combine 1/4 cup of the cheese with the bread crumbs and melted butter. Set aside.
- Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, cooking down any liquid and removing any fat, if necessary. Salt and pepper the meat.
- Add diced fresh tomatoes and any leftover minced garlic from the tomato roasting. Mash the tomatoes into the pan and they will disappear into the meat mixture. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is cooked away.
- Stir in the roasted tomatoes, stirring until heated through.
- Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the grated cheese.
- Fill the shells carefully using two teaspoons, but don’t agonize over spilt filling.
- Top the filling with the breadcrumb mixture, using your fingers. It’s a kind of balancing act.
- Bake the filled shells for 30 minutes. You could cover the dish with foil for part of the time, if you think the zucchini needs more concentrated cooking or if you did not precook them in the microwave.
This was a great dinner without a heavy starch like pasta, and my husband didn’t even notice the tomatoes, until I told him later.