Friday, July 27, 2012

Recipe for Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups found on KalynsKitchen.com
"Cups" made from giant zucchini slices and filled with a meat, tomato, and mozzarella mixture.
 
(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites.  It's monster zucchini season here and last Friday I spotlighted Monster Zucchini and Basil Strata.   This recipe for zucchini Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups uses "cups" created from slices of overly-large zucchini, and this is another of my very favorite things to make when the zucchini gets out of control.  Enjoy!)

Despite the rather messy plating job, I'm excited about this new way of making stuffed zucchini by slicing an overly-large zucchini into two-inch slices, then hollowing out the slices to make zucchini "cups." Normally I'm a fan of round 8-ball squash for Stuffed Zucchini, but this year my 8-Ball squash hardly produced anything. Meanwhile, my regular zucchini plant kept producing zucchinis that were too big, causing me to get creative. Don't you think hollowing out a zucchini cup like this and filling it with meat and cheese sounds like a delicious way to use zucchini? Zucchini is definitely on surplus status around here, so there may be some other zucchini recipes coming up this week as well.

Start by sauteing onion, green pepper, and garlic for a few minutes in a bit of olive oil. Then remove the veggies, add a bit more olive oil, and saute the meat until it's browned. Stir the green pepper, onion, and garlic back into the meat once it's done.

Then mix in about 2 cups of flavorful tomato sauce and let it simmer until all the liquid has cooked off. I used some homemade Marinara Sauce I had in the freezer, but any sauce with good flavor will work, even sauce from a jar. Once the liquid has cooked off, turn off the heat.

Cut a large zucchini into sliced about 2 inches thick. Be careful to make flat sides when you cut. This zucchini was not quite three inches across at the widest part.

I decided I didn't have quite enough zucchini for the amount of sauce, so I also used a yellow squash that had gotten a bit too large. I used a melon baller to hollow out the squash, which worked perfectly. Be careful not to make the bottom too thin, or the liquid will run out like in my top photo above!

By now the meat has cooled slightly, so mix in about 1 1/2 cups of low-fat mozzarella or other mild cheese. I used a low-fat blend of six cheeses called Italian Blend with 7 grams of fat in 1/4 cup.

I like the zucchini to still have a tiny bit of crispness, so I stuffed the zucchini raw. Pack it in, heaping it up a bit over the top. Bake zucchini like this for 20 minutes at 350F/175C.

After the zucchini cups have baked for 20 minutes, use the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese to sprinkle over the top of each, and bake about 25 minutes more. (You'll get some on the baking sheet, so be sure you've sprayed it with non-stick spray!) I forgot to take a photo of the nicely browned tops when they came out of the oven, but these were delicious. Serve hot.

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

Ingredients:
2 large zucchini or yellow squash, about 12 inches long
2 tsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil (may need more, depending on your pan)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 T finely minced fresh garlic
1 lb. ground beef (10% fat or less)
12 oz. ground turkey (10% fat or less)
(use any combination of ground meat you'd like, but use low-fat ground meat for the South Beach Diet.)
1-2 tsp. Spike seasoning (optional but recommended)
2 C flavorful tomato-basil pasta sauce
2 cups low-fat mozzarella or other mild white cheese (I used low-fat blend of six cheeses called Italian blend.)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Chop onion and green pepper. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a non-stick pan, then saute onion and pepper for 3-4 minutes, until just starting to soften. Add minced garlic and saute about 1 minute more, being careful not to brown the garlic. Remove the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture to a bowl.

Add 2 tsp. more olive oil to the pan. Crumble in the ground beef and ground turkey, season with Spike seasoning, and cook over medium heat until the meat is well browned. Tilt pan to see if there is any extra fat, and remove with a spoon if there is, then stir cooked vegetables and garlic back into the meat. Add tomato sauce and simmer until the mixture has thickened and liquid has cooked off, about 10 minutes, then turn off heat.

While meat cools, cut zucchini into 2 inch thick slices, discarding ends. Use a sharp spoon or melon baller to hollow out a cup in each zucchini slice, leaving just over 1/4 inch of zucchini flesh. Be careful not to get too close to the skin or the cups will leak liquid when they cook.

Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray and stand up zucchini cups, open end up. Stir 1 1/2 cups grated cheese into the cooled meat mixture (it doesn't need to be completely cool), then spoon the meat-cheese mixture into zucchini cups, pressing down with the spoon and mounding it up a little over the top of the zucchini.

Bake zucchini cups for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and use remaining cheese to top each one with a generous pinch of cheese. Put back in oven and bake 10-15 minutes more, until zucchini is slightly soft when pierced with a fork and cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
Made with low-fat ground beef, low-fat ground turkey, and low-fat cheese, this is a great dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet or any other low-glycemic eating plan. For phase one, serve with something like Warm Red Cabbage Salad or Roasted Cauliflower. For phase two or three, you could add something like Lake Powell Spicy Rice.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups found on KalynsKitchen.com

More Stuffed Zucchini You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil from Kalyn's Kitchen
Stuffed Zucchini from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Eight Ball Stuffed Zucchini from A Veggie Venture
Stuffed Zucchini from Kayotic Kitchen
Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Food Mayhem
Zucchini Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Cheese from Closet Cooking
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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67 comments:

lydiatheperfectpantry said...

What a great way to get over the zucchini glut, especially at this time of year when those extra-large zucchinis seem to be in every garden. This would be delicious with ground turkey.

Kelly said...

This looks so good! I love zucchini and summer squash and all the interesting things you can do with them.

Cookin' Canuck said...

I think this is a fantastic way to use zucchini! Not only does it make for a great presentation, but it's a healthy meal that would be perfect for a weeknight.

VintageMixer said...

I just had something very similar to this at Nuch's. They stuffed the zucchini with ricotta cheese and sausage! yum!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Clearly, your zucchini "runneth over!" Great idea - I like the look of the cups much more than the traditional "boat."

Amber said...

Oh no! I would have loved to make this, but just yesterday I shredded and froze 20 cups of (huge!) zucchini that was sitting on my counter. I'll have to check my plant and see what's coming up in the next few days.

Lynda said...

This looks delicious. Great photos. I will definitely try to make this, perhaps with some ground lamb for a middle eastern twist.

Janelle Rene said...

I love your recipes, but living in a place where summertime gardens don't exist makes me very envious of all you are able to do. Looks like I'll have to improvise this one since our stores don't get oversized zucchinis!

Gina said...

I love stuffed anything, especially stuffed zucchini!

Cynthia said...

Have I told you that you are one of those people that has the ability to make me eat things I don't generally like? Yep, you are. Give me that zucchini cup and I'll eat it with delight. :)

Kalyn said...

Behind on comments again, just came back from making dinner for my dad (sigh, he is not doing well.)

Thanks everyone for the nice thoughts about the recipe. Glad people are liking it, and considering making it. Sorry if I'm overusing the garden produce, but I want to make the most of it! And I love it if I can inspire Cynthia to eat things she wouldn't normally like!

karen said...

Oh good grief these look phenomenal! It's a good thing tomorrow is Farmer's Market Day :)

Joanne said...

This is such an adorable idea - what a great presentation! You are on an Italian food kick these days and i'm loving it.

Joanne said...

I love making dishes such as this. It makes eating your veggies so much more fun!
Your recipe and photos look terrific.

Trish said...

These are so cute and I had never ever thot of cutting up the zucchini this way. Perfect. You are amazing!

Kalyn said...

Thanks everybody. I have no idea how that idea of cutting the zucchini the other way popped into my mind. I may well have seen it somewhere but if so I don't remember where it was. I really liked it though.

The Italian Dish said...

Oh, Kalyn, I LOVE this idea! What a great way to use those giant zucchini! Thank you and I'm going to do this. These look great.

Katerina said...

Yum, these look delicious, great photos!

jonewman said...

I am drooling over this recipe as I am literally sitting her eating sauteed zucchini! I would much rather be eating yours right now...I must make this soon!

Lea Ann said...

This looks very good. Great new idea, thanks for sharing.

Lea Ann

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is such a great way to use overgrown zucchinis! Thanks!

Karly said...

Oh my word. That looks AMAZING. I bet I could even get my husband to eat that and he's not one who usually eats veggies!

Sarah Caron said...

When I saw the photo, all I could think was how beautiful it was. Wonderful colors and great presentation!

Joyce in AZ said...

This looks very good. I have to tell you though, I just kept asking myself.....what did she do with the zucchini she scooped out? I do realize that a good portion of it was seeds, but it seems like a waste to throw it away.

I just made my store bought oversized zucchini's into zucchini pizza a couple of days ago. I'll have to buy more now. lol

Kalyn said...

I did get my dad to happily eat this, and he's a hard sell on veggies in general.

Joyce, I thought about mixing in some of the zucchini insides with the filling, but in these big zucchinis the seeds are huge and the flesh is pithy and not that flavorful, so yes, I threw it away!

Natalie said...

Ha I just made stuffed zucchini last night, but I love your take on it and making it into cups! :) Great recipe!

Kevin said...

Those look so cheesy and good! Great way to enjoy the zucchini!

Chef Gwen said...

I do think that's a great way to serve zucchini! That's so cool... we think alike...

Here's my post on something very similar (though no meat, so mine is not a complete meal, just an appetizer).

http://penandfork.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/crazy-for-zucchini/

It was great to finally meet you in person last week. Your Dad is very lucky to have such a doting daughter.

J-J said...

I am starting South Beach Phase I today and found your website. I love cooking and thought being on the plan was going to prevent me from doing so enjoyably. But, not with your recipes. I'm making the stuffed zuccini tomorrow night. Thanks!

Kalyn said...

Natalie and Kevin, thanks. I like the idea that each person gets their own zucchini!

Gwen, sorry I'm so slow getting back here, but it was fun meeting you too! Funny how we already "know" each other when we meet isn't it?

J-J, thanks for that nice feedback. I hope you will enjoy the blog. (And stick with South Beach and I know it will work!)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just started the SBD this week and have been cooking dinner only using your recipes. They are sooo good. I was just wondering what specific brand of tomato sauce you use? I have been looking for something that has under 5g of sugar but have not been able to find one yet. I want to make these Zucchini cups as soon as I find the sauce.

Kalyn said...

I used my own homemade marinara sauce, but I just looked in my cupboard and right now I have S&W Organic Tomato Sauce with 4 grams of sugar.

Joyce in AZ said...

For South Beach I don't believe you need to watch the sugar content in tomato products, because tomato's have a large quantity of natural sugar. What you DO have to look for is added sugar in the ingredient list, as that should be avoided.

Kalyn said...

Joyce, I agree but checking sugar grams on the label is a good way to avoid products with added sugar.p

AmberLou said...

I made this, and saved the zucchini I scooped out for stuffed bell peppers... sooo good! My 4 year old called them "meat cupcakes". Thanks for the great recipe!

Kalyn said...

I love the name "meat cupcakes!" And what a great idea to use the scooped out zucchini in something else. Glad you liked it!

Jenny G K said...

This makes a great filling for stuffed peppers too. So simple and yummy. Thanks for the recipe!

Kalyn said...

Jenny, glad you liked it. Sounds like there are a few people trying this in stuffed peppers!

chigiy at gardeners anonymous said...

I love these zucchini cups, they would be great if only those darn mites hadn't gotten to my zucchini:( Maybe next year.

Tanya said...

This looks this an extremely yummy dish!! My husband and I just started the South Beach diet 4 days ago, and I'm already sick of eating nothing but salads and peppers. I'm a little confused about the spike seasoning though. I've been to 3 different grocery stores, and no one there knows what it is. Were can I get it?? Is it known by a different name as well?? Thanks!!

Kalyn said...

Spike is often sold by health foods. Enter "Spike seasoning" in the search bar and there's a post about it. (typing on phone or I would find for you!)

TheFabJG said...

I've made this twice and absolutely LOVE it! I wound up cutting my Z's long-ways (hot-dog style) and they were more like little delicious canoes of wonder than cups. But they are fab!

I had some leftover filling and tossed in some pre-sauteed onions and bell peppers, and some leftover red beans--some chili powder and cumin, topped with a bit of cheese and called it an improv chili. It was a great lunch for phase 1....heavens help me, I hope it really was suitable for P1 with the extra seasoning. Help keep me in line if it wasn't! Thanks, Kalyn. You're awesome as always!

Kalyn said...

So glad you liked it. Your improv chili sounds great, perfectly okay for phase one!

Anonymous said...

@Kalyn - did you do anything with the inside of the zucchini? I actually super love zucchini so the though of wasting any of it is sad to me, although I'm sure the zucchini insides are pretty well mashed when you get them out. Anyway, I was just wondering, but this recipe looks right in my wheelhouse otherwise!

Kalyn said...

These were big zucchinis with big seeds inside, so I didn't save the insides but you could definitely chop it up and add it to the sauteed vegetables for the filling.

Anonymous said...

Dinner was absolutely perfect tonight.My spouse and I love Zucchini.I didn't do the "cups",but love the idea.When I can find zucchini big enough,I will definately do the "cups".
Sue in Nevada

Kalyn said...

Sue, I hope you get to try the cups; they're fun!

Hayley said...

I'm starting phase one again (those 50 pounds I've lost on SBD turned into only 40 in the past few months), and found this gem while rummaging through the site (which has been my favorite site over the past year of south beach-ing). I planned the meal, but neglected to check the time it would take! So...I improvised. I cooked the green pepper mixture a bit longer, microwaved the zucchini cups before putting them in the oven while the meat finished up, and microwaved the stuffed zucchini before adding cheese and putting it in the oven for 10 minutes. I managed to finish it in about 40 minutes from couch to table. Of course, I'm looking forward to trying the actual version, but I was impressed by the taste of my speedy fix. I'm positive my store-bought zucchini were nowhere near as large as the ones you used, so I felt pretty confident in using the guts. In fact, I had extra stuffing leftover and used the zucchini with that for another easy phase one friendly meal! Thanks for your always excellent recipes!

Kalyn said...

Hayley, I know just what you mean about how those pounds creep back on. Love how you improvised to make this work!

Shannon Dew said...

Just tried this tonight & YUM!!! Loved it! Curious how many calories each cup is worth?

Kalyn said...

Shannon I chose South Beach to manage my weight partly because I didn't want to have to count points, calories, carbs, or fat grams, so I don't have that information.

Cookin' Canuck said...

This is such a fun way to use zucchini, Kalyn. My kids aren't big zucchini fans, but I have a feeling they would change their minds if it was presented like this.

Kalyn Denny said...

Dara, if you had a veggie on the side, the kids could even just eat the filling, but I think this might surprise them.

Kristen - Dine & Dish said...

I love this idea and am kind of annoyed that I never thought to do something like this before. It seems like such a no brainer - especially when we have all this zucchini lying around!

Kalyn Denny said...

Thanks Kristen. Such a good use for those big boys that get out of control!

Heidi said...

Love stuffing my zuch's and love the idea of doing them in little tubes even more! And I definitely have the zuchinni to do it with!

Kalyn Denny said...

Heidi, when I hit on this idea, I wondered why I hadn't thought of it sooner!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

They look delicious!

Kristen said...

These are just like my Zucchini Pizza cups that I posted last month!!!

Kalyn Denny said...

Kristen, isn't it a fun way to use those big zucchini. I first posted this in 2009 and I've been doing this ever since.

Elizabeth said...

Love the presentation on these!!

Kalyn Denny said...

Thanks Elizabeth! Such a fun way to use those big zucchinis.

gfe--gluten free easily said...

I like this idea so much better than the zucchini boats where one uses a smaller, but whole zucchini, as the receptacle for the stuffing. These cups seem to provide a much more reasonably sized portion, Kalyn.

Thanks!
Shirley

jennihodges said...

This looks fantastic! Nothing says summer like zucchini, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Thanks for the great idea for using - and enjoying - our huge zucchini harvest!

Unknown said...

I went away and left hubby and son to take care of the garden, well to my surprise no one picked anything so I had one zucchini a little over a foot long and on the fat end was 5&1/2 inches around so stuffing it worked great.
Thanks
Anita

Sarah Jane said...

Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe! My family and I loved it! I posted a feature about this recipe on my blog and put a link back to your blog! Thanks again!

www.sjscrafts.blogspot.com

Eliza said...

These are great, but they really need the full baking time to allow the zucchini to soften. I tried to rush it this last time and the zukes were just crisp tender (but still good!).

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