“Wow, mom, this is an awesome dinner,” my seven-year-old daughter raved as she reached across the table, arm outstretched. “High five on this one.”
What got her so excited? Was it noodles with butter and parmesan (a long-standing favorite) or chocolate cake with white frosting (another one)? No, it was scrambled eggs with smoked ham, Cheddar and parsley; organic green beans (from our CSA); and her favorite dish on the plate…stuffed cue-ball zucchini. I know this because right after she said the words above, she followed it up with, “and my favorite is the zucchini!”
Given the state of kids’ meals in this country, you’d think that kids would only gush about chicken nuggets and fries and spaghetti with red sauce. But my oldest proves what they’ve long known in Europe: kids can eat — not to mention love — grown-up food. Even somewhat unusual food like stuffed zucchini.
I admit, the intensity of her reaction took me by surprise. I’d half expected the kids to pull out the line we’ve taught them to say when facing something they’re not crazy about, which is, “This isn’t my favorite but I’m glad I tried it.” But instead Katie gobbled it up and asked for more.
Zucchini Stuffed with Cheese and Corn
Inspired by a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
Serves 2-4, depending on if you cut them in half or serve them whole
2 cue-ball zucchini (large green zucchini work well, too)
1 1/2 T butter
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (or use 2 tablespoons of one of them)
1 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
1/2 cup cooked rice (leftovers from take-out Chinese work well)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
2 T parmesan
Boil a large pot of salted water and cook zucchini until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and run under cool water. When cool, cut off the tops and scoop out the flesh, then finely chop it. In a saute pan, saute the onion in the melted butter about 7 minutes, then add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the zucchini and saute until tender and browned in places. Add the herbs, corn, rice and cheeses, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff back into the hollowed-out zucchini and microwave until hot. These can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge.