Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Zucchinis are plentiful in the summer and the perfect vessel for a variety of fillings. This Italian recipe is an amazing make-ahead dish. Leaving out the bacon it’s a satisfying vegetarian option. Serve warm or at room temperature with a nice green salad or a crusty bread.
In a few European countries, like France and the UK zucchinis are known as Courgettes. The term “marrow” is used in the UK for large zucchinis.
- 4 medium zucchinis, about 1 ¼ lbs (600 g) halved lengthwise
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 medium shallot or small onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium onions sliced into thin rings
- ½ Tbsp tomato paste or to taste
- ½ tsp sweet paprika or to taste
- 1 cup full-fat ricotta, not low fat!
- ½ cup pancetta or smoked bacon cut into ¼ inch (½ cm) dices
- ½ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
Cut zucchinis in half lengthwise. Hollow zucchinis halves with a small spoon or a melon baller leaving about ½ inch (1 cm) bottom and borders. Salt and pepper them lightly. Brush zucchinis on all sides with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place zucchinis on a baking sheet top side up and bake it for about 10 minutes or until they begin to soften.
In the meantime, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Add pancetta or bacon and fry it until crisp. Set aside on a paper towel to drain excess fat.
Add shallots and garlic to the same saucepan scrapping the bottom to add the juicy bits. Saute for 2 minutes longer or until shallots start to soften. Set aside.
Wipe saucepan with towels papers. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion rings and saute them until they start to brown on the edges and soften. Set onion rings aside and keep them warm.
Put ricotta, tomato paste, paprika, shallots, garlic, pancetta or bacon cubes and parsley into a bowl and mix it well. Taste for salt and pepper. Fill each zucchini boat with the ricotta-bacon mix, and mound it a bit. Sprinkle zucchini tops with remaining diced bacon and parsley. Bake for 15-20 minutes longer or until the zucchini tops are nicely golden and bubbly. Zucchini should remain “al dente” not too soft.
Just before serving garnish zucchini boats with the onion rings or serve them on the side.