When the temperatures turn cooler my thoughts turn to stuffing vegetables.
My obsession started innocently enough, when I still lived in Minneapolis.
I was at the local farmer’s market one autumn, planning a dinner party and looking at all the beautiful vegetables, thinking what fun it would be to stuff them all (and what a lot of work).
My thoughts went to the usual routine: women in the kitchen gossiping and watching me cook; men in the game room gossiping and playing.
I decided on a different approach: Why not let the guests cook?
All of them?
Thus was born the annual Stuffed Vegetable Party.
It was a simple idea.
We invited 10 people, paired everyone, and gave each pair a vegetable to stuff.
Over the years we stuffed bell peppers and chili peppers, acorn, butternut and patty pan squashes, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cabbage – both whole and leaves only and, for dessert, apples and pears.
We tried to have one competent cook in each pair, but even the people that didn’t know a butcher knife from a butter knife rolled up their sleeves and had fun.
Want to stuff some vegetables? Here are a few ideas:
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Ham and Quinoa:
Mushrooms Stuffed with Goat Cheese on Pesto Vinaigrette
Stuffed Tomatoes (and the tale of Boris the Toad)
Stuffed Courgette (Zucchini)
2 zucchini or summer squash (courgette), 7″ each (17cm)
ground beef, turkey, sausage, 5oz (150gr)
2 large tomatoes, about 7oz (200gr) each
1/2 green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/3 cup vermicelli or other tiny pasta
1/4 cup beef stock
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup shredded cheese (2oz, 60gr) any flavor – I use Emmenthal
The zucchini: Cut zucchini in half the long way. With a small spoon scrape out the seeds and flesh from the center forming long boat-like shells. Leave 1/4″ (.6cm) at either end to hold in the filling. Put them in a baking dish, single layer, cover with foil and bake, 400F (200C), for 15 minutes. Remove and keep covered until ready to fill.
The stuffing: While zucchini bakes: Chop onion and pepper. Mince garlic. Heat olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chili powder and sauté briefly. Add onion, pepper and garlic, sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Roughly chop tomato. Add meat to skillet and cook, breaking it up as it browns. Add tomatoes to skillet and cook until it’s tender and juicy, about 5 minutes. Add herbs, stock, wine and pasta, stir well, reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Stir often or pasta will stick.
The finish: When the pasta has absorbed most of the liquid and the filling is fairly thick, spoon it into the zucchini. Any filling that doesn’t fit, just keep warm and serve on the side. Cover zucchini with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove, uncover, sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 minutes longer.
What’s your favorite stuffed vegetable?