There couldn't be a better reason to buy an armload of zucchini, but for another Food Group get together with the girls. This time we went over to R's house for another magnificent night of food. We started off with a glass of wine, and then moved on to cheese and baguette. A chilled coconut curry soup helped wash down the bread crumbs. Then we casually ate through a whole table of vegetable dishes like beets with a shallot dressing, heirloom tomatoes swirled with balsamic, a massaged kale salad, and feta and dill stuffed zucchini. I believe my eyes actually got millimeters bigger just looking at my plate. I really didn't want the food to disappear from my place setting. This colorful assortment scented by a nice breeze and good conversation weaved throughout...what else could make the night? Oh yeah, berries and dark chocolate that D brought to round it out. Ok food party complete.
There are so many things I need to tell you about making stuffed zucchini. I think it was a combination of the warm weather and iced coffee in the afternoon, but I felt like I could have had a camera crew following me around my house for a cooking demonstration...I was amped and all over the place (in the kitchen, on the front porch, standing in the backyard) with a gigantic smile and hop in my flip-flopped step. Hopefully this happens to you when you make them.
First and foremost, because it is summer, please use fresh corn when making this recipe. I mean, if it is frozen corn versus no corn, use the frozen of course. But if you have the chance to get some fresh summer corn...do it. I learned this great trick while watching Rachel Ray the other day. Get yourself a large bowl. Then invert a smaller bowl in the bottom of it. Cut the ends off the corn cob, and carefully slice the kernels off. They will just slide right into the bowl. Let me rephrase, I did this in the backyard, and a few did pop into the grass. There will likely be a few strays. But keep this method in mind...it works beautifully.
The next order of business is clearing out the insides of the zucchini so to allow space to stuff it. If you have ever de-seeded cucumbers, it is very similar. But let me warn you, that if you drink coffee before doing this, pump the brakes a little with the spoon. I got really excited and was a tad bit stronger than usual, and when I went to clear out the first zucchini, I pressed too hard, and ripped it in half.
So...very carefully, slide the spoon (turned over like pictured above) over the meat of the zucchini and take out enough to make a nice lining for filling. Then reserve the meat because we will be adding that back into the filling. Just chop it into chunks and set aside.
So those are my two main points. It was a great dish to make for a potluck, because I prepared and assembled everything, so that all I had to do when I got there was broil them for about 5 minutes to warm the cheese. Eating immediately afterwards works best. But stuffed zucchini the next day, cold, right out of the fridge, without utensils is pretty dang tasty too.
Feta and Dill Stuffed Zucchini
Adapted from Epicurious Gourmet September 1992
Yields 4-6 servings
The original recipe calls for fresh dill. But last week I cleaned out the spice rack and realized my dried dill needed to be consumed ASAP, so it was a contribution to this recipe. But feel free to use fresh, especially if you have some nice summer product. The instructions may look lengthy below, but this is quite a simple recipe. So just trust the process. You will be pleased, and so will your friends.
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 zucchinis, 3 for stuffing and one for sauteing
1 ear corn
1 1/2 tsp dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup feta + more for sprinkling before broiling
Heat a medium saute pan on medium to low heat. Add the olive oil. Allow to warm up for a minute or so. Drop in the onions and do a slow saute.
While onions are cooking, cut 3 of the zucchini in half. You can keep the ends intact (it makes the 'boat' easier to fill and also looks more authentic). Carefully with a spoon turned upside down, as pictured above, comb out the filling of the zucchini. Take enough out so that you can portion a generous amount of filling in each one, but not so much that there isn't any meat left. In a steaming basket (or just a pan with a shallow amount of water if you don't have a steaming basket), place the halved zucchinis (cut side up) in and cover. Steam for just 5 minutes so they are bright green and partially cooked. Remove from heat and turn them cut side down on a paper towel to drain and cool.
Cut the 1 remaining zucchini into small cubes. Add this to the sauteing onions and cook until lightly browned. Very carefully cut the corn kernels from the cob as pictured and instructed above. Add to the onions and zucchini. Chop up the zucchini meat you carved out for the shells. Drop into the mix. Sprinkle in the dill and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and saute for a few more minutes. Turn off heat and pour mixture into a medium sized bowl. Toss with the 1/2 cup feta.
Turn broiler on. In an oiled oven proof dish, arrange the zucchini shells, cut side up. Spoon in the filling. Sprinkle with a little extra feta if you like. Broil for 3-4 minutes (depending on your oven), until lightly browned and feta is melted. Enjoy as a side dish, appetizer or bring to a potluck.