Zucchini Stuffed with Basil Caramelized Onion Pesto and Fresh Croutons

I turned off the television as Roo walked into the living room.

“What were you watching?”

“Nothing.”

“It was obviously something,” Roo said, sitting down on the couch.  He motioned his hand towards the remote.

“Don’t judge,” I said, handing it to him.

Roo turned on the television. A loud Yuuuuuuup! emitted from the speakers. Roo smiled. “Storage Wars?”

“I can’t help myself. It’s like a redneck treasure hunt.”

“Well, that guy who has something against sleeves, is hilarious.”

“That’s Darrell,” I laughed, “I pretty much love everything he says.  His voice? Classic.”

“Who’s the one in the hazmat suit?,” Roo said, pointing at the screen, “He looks like he walked straight out of American Grafitti.”

“That’s Barry. And I’d totally buy him a drink.” I paused, “I wish I didn’t like these shows. It’s bad enough that I make you watch The Biggest Loser every fall.”

“Honestly? I prefer this, than watching that ex-marine yell at obese contestants. It gives me heartburn.”

“Watching that show after eating dinner is a bit masochistic.”

Roo muted the television. “What are we having for dinner by the way?”

“Do I even have to tell you?”

“Something from our CSA?”

I nodded and started walking towards the kitchen.

“Using up some of the zucchini?”

“Yuuuuuuuuup!”

This is a great way to use up that zucchini you may have lying around the house.  The fresh croutons give it some texture, adding a bit of crunch, while the pesto has a salty, luscious bite from the caramelized onions, basil and a touch of lemon juice. This pairs wonderfully with either roasted tomatoes or ones fresh from the garden; sliced, with a bit of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil.

Inspired by Simply Recipes

Serves 2

Equipment

A sharp knife

A medium skillet (used three times – if making pesto – so have a couple paper towels to wipe out your pan with)

A spatula

A food processor (only if making basil pesto)

A metal spoon (like a soup spoon)

A roasting pan

Aluminum foil (in case the pesto starts to brown too quickly in the oven)

Ingredients

For the Zucchini

1 cup of bread, cubed (day old is better as it’s drier and will toast easier)

A half tablespoon of olive oil

1 large zucchini (about a pound)

About three tablespoons of basil pesto

About a cup of water (for the roasting pan)

For the Basil Caramelized Onion Pesto

Note: This makes about a half a cup of chunky pesto. Leftovers freeze beautifully. Also, I don’t like garlic in my pesto. If you do, feel free to mince a clove and throw it in your food processor.

1 medium onion, sliced thin

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Half cup of slivered almonds, toasted

2 cups of fresh basil, packed

Quarter cup of olive oil

1 lemon, juiced – add a little, slowly to taste (I like the pesto with just a little lemon, Roo doesn’t)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place your oven rack to the middle position in your oven.  Preheat your oven to 375F.

Add half tablespoon of olive to your medium skillet and place on a burner over medium heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the cubed bread, tossing to coat in the oil.  Spread the bread out in the skillet to toast.  Allow the bread to sit in the skillet till lightly browned, then toss them (with a flick of the wrist while holding the pan) to move them and allow the other sides to lightly brown.  When all sides are lightly browned, remove the skillet from heat.  Pour the croutons out on a paper towel and (carefully! The pan is hot!) wipe off your skillet to use again.

If you’re making the basil pesto…(otherwise, skip the next three paragraphs)

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to your skillet. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the diced onion.  Add a big pinch of salt.  Cook the onion, stirring occasionally with a spatula until deeply browned and caramelized (about eighteen minutes).  Remove from heat and scrape contents into food processor with spatula.  Wipe down skillet (carefully!) with a paper towel.

Add the slivered almonds to your skillet and place on a burner over medium heat.  Toast the almonds until light browned.  Usually when they become fragrant, they’re done.  Remove from heat and add the almonds to your food processor.

Add the basil to the food processor.  Pulse the contents till the ingredients are well combined (you’ll have to scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times to make sure everything gets a good toss in the blades).  Turn the food processor on, and slowly stream the olive oil in.  Stop once well combined (again, you may have to scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure everything is well combined).  Taste (there’s already some salt in it from the onions), add more salt (and pepper) if desired.  If you’d like a bit of brightness, add some lemon juice.  Pulse till combined. Set aside.

Halve the zucchini lengthwise.  Scoop out the flesh, leaving about a half inch thickness (I basically scoop out till I don’t see anymore seeds).  Either save the flesh to make zucchini cake or discard (you can freeze it).

Spread about a tablespoon of pesto inside each hollowed out zucchini half.  Stuff the croutons on top of the pesto.  Spread some pesto on top of the croutons, if desired.

Place the zucchini halves into a roasting pan.  Fill the pan with about a cup of water (so that the roasting pan is filled with water and it covers about a quarter inch of the bottom of the zucchini halves).

Bake the zucchini for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the zucchini is easily pierced with a fork. If the pesto on top of the zucchini starts to darken too quickly prior to being done, tent aluminum foil on top of it.

Serve immediately.

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One thought on “Zucchini Stuffed with Basil Caramelized Onion Pesto and Fresh Croutons

  1. Pingback: Basil Pesto Bread | Liz Lemon Nights

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