By Tali Simon | November 19, 2012
So my husband doesn’t like zucchini. But he ate half of these barley & pecan stuffed zukes. And this was even with a casserole made from the extra filling sitting on the stove top.
What I like most about stuffing zucchinis is that they retain some bite. When I normally cook with zucchini, it ends up very soft. With these, though, it’s a different experience — you can actually chomp down on the zucchini. It’s kinda nice.
If you prefer stuffed foods with more stuffing and less “shell,” try putting this filling in tomatoes or peppers. I haven’t tried those yet, but I bet they’d both be delicious.
Even if you eat the filling plain, though, it’ll be delicious. Pearl barley is sauteed briefly in cumin-scented olive oil, then made creamy with two cheeses (cottage and mozzarella). It gets kicked around with some soy sauce and Tabasco sauce, mixed with sauteed veggies, and finally sprinkled with chopped pecans toasted in a light coating of brown butter.
Although there are several different flavors here, they manage to work together instead of leaving you with a jumbled mess. And the pecans add a wonderful texture, so that you have some bite on the top, some bite on the bottom, and some nice creamy stuff in between.
These stuffed zucchinis would make a beautiful appetizer for an autumn meal — just plate them up with a big dollop of sour cream and wait for the accolades.
Of course, a platter of them would work as a side dish. Either way, I’d say you’re pretty safe.
Even at a table of people who supposedly don’t like zucchini.
One year ago: Tuna croquettes
Inspired by The Moosewood Cookbook
Yield: 10 stuffed zucchini halves
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2¼ cups water
- 1 tsp soup mix
- 5 small zucchini
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch of thyme
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 4 drops Tabasco sauce
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
1. First, cook the barley: Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 3-quart pot. Add cumin and stir constantly for 30 seconds. Add barley and stir constantly for an additional 60 seconds. Add water and soup mix and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer (covered) for 35-40 minutes, or until barley is soft and water is absorbed. Check mid-way and add a splash of water if needed. When done, set aside until you’re ready to mix up the filling.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.
3. Prep the zucchinis: Wash and dry the zucchinis, then slice off and discard the ends. Cut them in half lengthwise and carefully carve out their insides with a knife (much easier than using a spoon). Chop up the insides.
2. Saute the veggies: Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet. Over low heat, sauté onion, garlic, and zucchini insides with thyme and salt until tender and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
3. Prep the pecans: Melt butter in a small saucepan, whisking continuously for about 1 minute past the melting point. As soon as brown bits appear at the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat. Mix pecans with butter to coat. Spread them out in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and toast them in the preheating oven for 7 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
4. Finish the filling: Add cottage cheese, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, and mozzarella to the barley. Stir, then add sautéed vegetables and half the nuts. Adjust for seasoning and then add the egg and stir well once more.
5. Stuff the zucchinis: Stuff the zucchini halves generously, top with reserved nuts, and sprinkle with paprika. Line them up in a lightly greased baking dish and cook for 45 minutes, or until zucchinis are soft when pricked with a knife. Serve hot with dollops of paprika-sprinkled sour cream.
Have lots of filling left? Bake it in a casserole dish at the same temperature for about 40 minutes.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.