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Three recipes to maximize late-summer crops
Good things come in veggie packages. Using vegetables as vessels to hold flavorful fillings is a great way to use up the abundance of peppers, tomatoes and zucchini multiplying in the garden. It’s also a fantastic way to incorporate more veggies into your diet. Skip the pasta and make Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Ravioli using thin slices of zucchini as the wrappers. Rather than slicing tomatoes for Caprese Salad, scoop out their seeds and stuff them with mozzarella cheese and fresh herbs. And don’t forget stuffed peppers. Instead of using bell peppers, try poblano peppers with a spicy filling of taco meat, corn and beans. The opportunities are endless, so start stuffing today!
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Take advantage of the abundance of fresh peppers available now. I prefer the flavor of poblano peppers with Mexican food; however, feel free to substitute any color of bell peppers for this dish.
6 large poblano peppers
1 pound ground round
½ cup diced onion
¾ cup fresh corn kernels
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked brown rice
¾ cup black beans, rinsed and drained
15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Heat oven to 350 F. Cut a large, vertical slice off each pepper, leaving the skin and stem in place. Save the extra slices and dice up to add to the filling. Clean out seeds and membranes from the peppers. Place peppers cut side up and bake for 15 minutes or until softer.
For the filling, in a large skillet, sauté onions, reserved diced peppers and corn until soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Add beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Drain beef and return it to the skillet. Sprinkle in seasonings and combine. Add cooked vegetables, rice, beans and tomatoes and stir until filling is well combined.
When the peppers are finished baking, spoon-filling into each pepper. Top each pepper with cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Ravioli
This dish has got triple Gs (greens) – zucchini, spinach and basil. Thin slices of zucchini are filled with creamy ricotta cheese, spinach and fresh basil then baked in tangy marinara sauce. Recipe makes approximately 16 ravioli.
4 medium zucchini
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh spinach
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 375 F. Using a mandolin on the thinnest setting or a potato peeler, slice thin strips of zucchini. Lay slices on paper towels and sprinkle with salt to draw out excess water.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, egg, spinach, basil, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir until well mixed.
For each ravioli, lay three slices of the
zucchini in a crisscross pattern.
Spoon a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture into the center.
Fold ends of zucchini over the mixture, creating a small package.
In a 9 x 13 baking dish, add a layer of marinara sauce. Place ravioli over the sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until the zucchini is soft and cheese is brown and bubbly.
Caprese Stuffed Tomatoes
Start with fresh Campari tomatoes which are bigger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than Romas. Serve alongside a main dish or as hors d’oeuvres.
1 dozen Campari tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Heat oven to 400 F. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish.
Slice tops off tomatoes, scoop out membranes and seeds. Chopped tomato tops to use in the filling. Sprinkle salt into tomato cavities. Place tomatoes in baking dish, cut side up.
In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cheese, basil and chopped tomatoes.
Fill tomato cavities with mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.