Saturday, August 25, 2012

For the Love of Zucchini, Part 2: Zucchini Cheeseburger Boats

So its definitely zucchini season around here! Lots of lovely squash are popping up at the market, in the garden and in our biweekly farm box. As I mentioned previously in part I: zucchini pancakes, with a (semi) picky 5 year old and a hubby who will eat pretty much anything-- except zucchini--, its a challenge to find ways of hiding, covering, or otherwise disguising this perfectly nice veggie!

Of all the different ways I've prepared zucchini, the pancakes have been hubby's favorite. I think, for him, it is the application that best disguises the zucchini. However, as many people are aware, sometimes the best camouflage involves hiding something in plain sight! If you would ask the fellas if they'd be willing to eat 1 or 2 whole zucchini, I can tell you for a fact that the answer would be "No, thank you!" (perhaps not so politely worded). And yet, each of the several times I've made this dish, the little dude has had one complete serving (1/2 of a whole zucchini) and the hubs has had at least 2, sometimes 3 boats (which is 1 to 1 1/2 whole zucchini). Each has eaten their portions WITHOUT grumbling, complaining or face making. Yay!!!

Now I'm not going to claim originality on this dish. If you do a simple search for zucchini boats on something like or the like, you will find tons of choices. This is a great base recipe that can be easily adjusted for your family's preferences or interests. Consider adding taco seasoning to the browned beef, topping with sour cream, chopped tomato & diced green peppers for "Taco boats". Swap out the ground beef for sausage, stir in tomato sauce, top with mozzarella for "Pizza boats". The only limit is your creativity!

Recipe: Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats

3 small/medium sized zucchini (if yours are too big, cut to fit your baking pan, save extras for later use)
1/2 lb. ground beef (I used 85%, grass fed)
garlic salt, pepper, worcheshire sauce
cheddar cheese, shredded (I used an organic white sharp cheddar)
diced tomato (mine were from MIL's garden!)
mustard (I used honey mustard but even yellow would be fine)

1) Rinse, dry and cut stem ends off zucchini. Cut lengthwise in half.
2) Using a metal spoon or melon baller, scoop out zucchini innards (SAVE THESE) and hollow out the interior of the zucchini. It doesn't have to be perfect but try not to get the sides too thin or the cooked boats will be too floppy!

3) Lay your prepared boats in a glass baking dish. Microwave on high 2 minutes at a time, rotating and checking for doneness. Depending on the size of your zucchini, this can be as little as 4 minutes and as much as 10. Don't overcook as these will continue cooking slightly in the oven.
4) Chop up your zucchini innards and add to a skillet with your ground beef. Add your normal burger seasonings--- I like a good hearty sprinkle of garlic salt, a smaller pass with the pepper shaker and a good couple of splashes of the worcheshire sauce.

5) Brown beef/zucchini mixture. Make sure meat is fully cooked and zucchini has softened.

6) Use a slotted spoon to transfer mixture into pre-cooked boats.(this will keep down the extra liquid from the meat & zucchini guts)
7) Top with shredded cheddar (or cheese of your choosing!)

8) Pop into a 400 F oven for about 5 minutes (just until cheese gets melty)
9) Top boats with diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped pickles or any other favorite burger toppings.

10) Zigzag across the whole thing with mustard (or ketchup or both!).

11) Grab a fork and knife and DIG IN!

I've found that 2 boats are an appropriate adult-sized serving. One boat for the little guy. Hubby can sometimes eat 3. So these 3 zucchini (6 boats) feed us perfectly. You could also add a side dish here of some fries and/or fruit to fill it out. When the toddler starts eating more table foods, we'll definitely need to add on here. If you have tons of zucchini, double the batch & save for later. Left overs freeze BEAUTIFULLY!!

Feel free to comment below and let me know how this worked out for you!

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