Mushroom and Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini (Vegetarian)

I went out for dinner with a friend the other night and ordered a lackluster version of this. Obviously, I didn't realize it was going to be lackluster when I ordered it; I thought it was going to be freaking delicious! The menu promised zucchini stuffed with a savory mixture of mushrooms, herbs, and ricotta, which felt like just the perfect light summer dinner I was craving.

Only problem is that what I got ended up being rather...bland. I spent the whole meal shaking the salt shaker.

But it had potential. So I fixed it! (You know...by adding flavor!)

At home, I revamped the filling by sauteing finely chopped mushrooms with onions, garlic, fresh thyme, and a pinch of chili flakes. I then swapped the insipid ricotta for a tangy chevre that I stirred through the mushroom mixture, letting it melt in the heat. I generously filled the scooped-out zucchini boats (the ones at the restaurant had been quite skimpy) and topped it off with mozzarella.

(Relatedly: When I told Eugene I was going to make stuffed zucchini, he replied "But how can you stuff zucchini? There's no room in there!")

Into the broiler for about 7 minutes and the results were impressive. Tangy and umami-rich from the mushrooms and goat cheese, plus just the perfect amount of salty gooey-ness from the mozzarella. Since I cooked it in the broiler, the zucchini was perfect--cooked through, but still firm enough to hold the filling and slice evenly.

I served these for dinner one night along with a salad and a crusty baguette, and then again for lunch this week when my mom came by. I've just popped the ingredients into my Fresh Direct cart so that I can make them again this weekend!

(I confess that I very nearly kept this recipe from you just because I hate the photos. It was a dark and cloudy day, I was hungry, and I didn't feel like taking the time to pull out my good lens. So I just took a few shots, right on the baking pan and called it a day. But it's a good recipe so that would have been silly!)

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Mushroom and Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 large zucchini
1 lb button mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme 
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
6oz chevre goat cheese
6 slices low-water mozzarella cheese

Directions
Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Rinse zucchini and pat dry. Cut in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to hollow out the center, reserving the zucchini that you scoop out. Season the insides of the hollowed-out zucchini boats with kosher salt and black pepper, and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Chop the mushrooms finely (caps and stems) finely. I like to just toss them in my food processor and let pulse until finely chopped, but you can also use a knife.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chopped mushrooms, the scooped out zucchini insides, diced onion, and garlic. Season well with salt and let cook until the onions get tender, the mushrooms shrink and release their water, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the thyme and red pepper flakes, and stir in the goat cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning with black pepper and more kosher salt, if necessary.

Use a spoon to fill the hollowed out zucchini boats, allowing the filling to overflow slightly. Top with torn pieces of mozzarella cheese. Place in preheated broiler (allowing several inches below the flame--I put it on the middle rack in my oven) and broil about 7 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden, and the zucchini is cooked through.



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