Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Roast Globe Zucchini with Fresh Beans Gremolata

Zucchini ripieni – or stuffed zucchini – are roasted and served all over Italy, though each region has decided variations on the theme. One of Lazio's most popular recipes calls for ground veal, ham, and tomato paste, while a typical Lombardian preparation highlights the region's rice. And though Sicilians tend to favor a pecorino, garlic, and parsley seasoning for the breadcrumbs and use the squash innards themselves, sautéed with onion, as the stuffing, Tuscans boast a garlicky ground pork filling – one of my favorite trattoria lunches.

Back in the States, I often fill the squash with fresh or dried beans, depending on the time of year. Here I’ve used a mixture of fresh borlotti beans and cowpeas (also a bean) from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm. The cowpeas in their wine-red pods were simply too sumptuously autumnal to resist, as you can see in the photo below, and they lend a tender-sweet touch to the dish. For the seasoning, a simple mirepoix of onion, celery, and carrots is simple but perfect – all 3 vegetables are at their height right now, which means they are fantastically crisp and full of flavor.

And the only finishing touch that’s needed is a topping of gremolata breadcrumbs to turn toasty brown in the oven. Gremolata – the traditional Italian trio of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest – is most famously used to dress ossobuco. But it’s tremendously versatile, not to mention deliciously fragrant and savory.

These roasted squash are more filling than you’d expect, and they make a lovely autumn supper until the first frost ends the zucchini harvest. Use globe zucchini when you can, though they can be hard to find in the U.S. I’ve been bemoaning this fact all summer - most recently at Rose's 64 Sq Ft Kitchen - but the miraculous Nevia of Yuno's Farm brought some to market last Friday. Their flavor is exactly the same as normal zucchini, which are often used too. You’ll just need to sprinkle on more of the breadcrumbs to cover the filling, and this recipe allows for that. Any leftover breadcrumbs can be stored in the freezer.

A quick note:
Although I will continue to post this week, I won't have much access to the internet. I'm off bridesmaid-ing on the rocky coast of Maine. I look forward to receiving and responding to all of your comments and questions - as well as to catching up on all of your fabulous sites - when I'm back online next Monday. Have a great week!

Serves 4 – 6

Extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow or Spanish onions, medium dice
2 ribs celery, sliced to medium thickness
2 medium carrots, peeled if necessary and medium dice
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 lb fresh cowpeas or black-eyed peas (about 8 oz. beans once shucked, or you may use 8 oz. drained canned cow peas or black-eyed peas or 8 oz. soaked dried cow peas or black-eyed peas)
2 lbs fresh borlotti or cranberry beans (about 14 oz. beans once shucked, or you may use 14 oz. drained canned borlotti or cranberry beans or 14 oz. soaked dried borlotti or cranberry beans)
1 bay leaf
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves minced
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup white wine
8 medium zucchini, preferably globe-shaped
3 slices country bread
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a rasp
½ big bunch parsley, leaves chopped
zest of 1 lemon

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and then the diced onion. Do not add salt. Once the onion is translucent, add the celery and carrots. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.

Stir in the beans and the bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Season generously with black pepper but again no salt – it can turn the bean shells tough. Pour in the stock and the wine and turn the heat up to high. Once the liquid starts to bubble, cover partially and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Cut off the top ½ inch of the squash. Using a melon baller or small spoon, gently scoop out their flesh – leave the walls about ½ an inch thick. In the food processor, pulse the bread, garlic, parsley, and lemon zest until coarsely chopped. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper and pulse again briefly.

Using a spoon, fill the zucchini with the beans and vegetables to about ½ inch from the top. Arrange in a baking dish. Pile on plenty of the gremolata breadcrumbs and drizzle the breadcrumbs with extra virgin olive oil to moisten.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the zucchini are soft but firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Cynthia said...

I love stuffed stuff, well the stuffing mainly :D

Jan said...

Just beautiful!

Joanna said...

I LOVE this post - fabulous pictures, terrific recipe ... such a good combination of flavours. And really funny you should be posting about gremolata today, because last night, a rare sleepless night for me, I thought (at about 3am) that I haven't made gremolata for ages ... and now here's another reminder

Thanks for sharing. And have a great weekend at the wedding


Anh said...

Beautiful! I just love how you use these fresh ingredients together!

winedeb said...

After seeing this post with the wonderful market photos...ah, I miss the farmers market which I attended every Saturday this past summer!!! The globe zucchini - what a find! Isn't it great how gremolata freshens up a dish. I actually love it on grilled fish!

Casey said...

gremolata is food of the gods. I like to stuff it under the skin od chicken cooked-under-a-brick.

Lucy said...

Very cute zucchini. A very elegant autumnal dish.

Mercedes said...

Ah I love globe zucchini, or really globe anything (those fab little lemon cucumbers, and globe eggplants) so perfect for stuffing!
I wouldn't have thought of a bean stuffing, it's a nice idea, especially since I got a little carried away buying calypso, fava, and butterscotch beans at Kalustyans recently.
Enjoy Maine, it's a perfect time of year to be there!

Pille said...

The top photo is fabulous - these small globe zucchinis are my favourite ones for stuffing.

Truffle said...

Oh how yummy! Looks so fresh and flavourful. What a great recipe!

Hope you have fun in Maine :)

Joanne Rendell said...

beautiful! I love the pics, in particular

Jeni said...

I'm going to have to hunt these globe zucchini and beautiful crimson colored beans down. They do look perfect for stuffing. We have similar palates - I love your choice of beans with the stuffing. Next farmers' market visit, I know what I'm buying.

marisa said...

So healthy and still so tempting.

Rose said...

It is great to see what you did with the globe zucchinis. Succulent recipe.

Wendy said...

This may have to be the final use of my final homegrown courgettes. I tried stuffing them earlier in the year but wasn't impressed by the results. Time to try again, I think!
Have a wonderful time!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Ohhh I love stuffed zucchini! Such a great use of the veggie!

Have a great time in ME!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Thank you all so much for your comments while I was gone. I must say I really missed you all, and everyone’s questions and kind words have been truly wonderful to come home to! I’m looking forward immensely to visiting all of your sites and catching up on what I missed while I was in Maine.

Cynthia, me too! Why is it so satisfying? Hope you enjoy.

Jan, thank you! It is a pretty dish – I like the different colors of the squash.

Joanna, thanks so much! I love stuffed zucchini, and gremolata must be in the air! Great minds think alike, and I guess that toasted, savory flavor is what we want for autumn!

Anh, thank you! Now that you mention it, the recipe does seem sort of a celebration of the way our farmer’s markets are right now!

Winedeb, gremolata on grilled fish is such a fabulous idea - I love your palate! And you make me want to send you a farmer’s market care package…just remember how much I envy all that gorgeous fish you have down there.

Casey, what a great idea! Chicken under a brick is such a fabulous dish, and I’m with you on the gremolata – it’s hard to think of anything it doesn’t taste delicious on.

Lucy, thank you! They are sweet, aren’t they? I’m so glad you like.

Mercedes, yes! That shape is so satisfying, isn’t it? So satisfying on the plate. I can’t resist the beans at the market when they come in either – such a wonderful time of year. And Maine was glorious – such a bummer to come back south and learn it would be in the 80s this week!

Pille, thank you! Yuno’s Farm has such wonderful produce, and they spread it out on white linen tablecloths, which makes everything so beautiful.

Truffle, thanks! It is a nice dish for all the wonderful produce this time of year, and I had a great time.

Jo, thanks! I really so glad you like. Those zucchini were beautiful.

Jeni, thank you! It is a beautiful time of the year at the market, isn’t it?

Marisa, thanks! It’s wonderful how healthy the dish is because it’s so satisfying!

Rose, thanks! Yours was wonderful too.

Wendy, thank you! I really hope you enjoy the recipe since they’re your last. Yikes, that’s a lot of pressure!

Jenn, thank you! I love stuffing all the gorgeous veg we have this time of year, and Maine was heavenly. A very happy wedding indeed.

Kalyn said...

I love those small round zucchini. Great post!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Kalyn, thank you so much! I like them too - all compact and portion size already.

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