When I saw 8-ball zucchini at the nearby farm stand, I snatched some up immediately, even though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them. After all, who can resist squash the size and shape of a pool ball? Stuffing was the obvious option, because otherwise their cute shape would go to waste.
I stuff things a lot, at least when it comes to dishes that eventually wind up on this blog. After all, stuffed vegetables are cute, and when you’re going to be taking photos of a dish, a stuffed baby eggplant is more attractive than an unstuffed one, though not necessarily tastier.
When it comes to ordinary, not-on-the-blog meals, however, I’m not very fond of stuffing. For one thing, it takes a lot longer than just chopping up the vegetable and, say, roasting it or even making raw “noodles” out of it with a spiral cutter. And for another thing, my daughter E. has a inexplicable dislike of stuffed vegetables: Even when she likes the veggie in question and the ingredients of the stuffing, she will automatically hate the stuffed vegetable. So I tend not to go to the trouble too often.
But, as I said, 8-ball zucchini are just too perfectly suited for stuffing, and since E. was out of the house, I decided to fill these cuties with a simple herbed rice mixture similar to what I’ve used on regular zucchini. This time, however, my variegated basil is in full-force, so I let it be the star of this stuffing. Sun-dried tomatoes lend some depth, and a few Kalamata olives pack their usual punch, but the peppery-fresh taste of basil really makes these stuffed zucchini special.
Eight-Ball Zucchini Stuffed with Rice, Basil, and Sun-dried Tomatoes
- 4 8-ball zucchini
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
- 1 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
- 1 cup basil leaves , chopped
- 5 Kalamata olives , pitted and chopped
- Cut zucchini tops off about 3/4 inch from the top. Scoop out the insides, being careful to leave a wall about 1/4 inch thick on all sides. Steam zucchini and tops for about 8 minutes, until slightly softened.
- Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes by soaking them in hot water until softened. Remove from water and chop. Reserve soaking water.
- Chop the zucchini pulp. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the zucchini pulp and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, brown rice and almonds, and if the mixture seems dry, add a splash of the tomato liquid. Add the basil leaves, Kalamata olives, and black pepper to taste. Cook until warm, about 3 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Using a spoon, carefully stuff the rice mixture into the zucchini, mounding slightly on top. Place in an uncovered baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot, covered with tops if desired.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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