Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stuffed Zucchini With Farro, Red Pepper And Feta

Stuffed Zucchini With Farro, Red Pepper And Feta recipe

Have you ever torn out a recipe from a publication half-heartedly, thinking this might be decent ... mehmaybe I'll try this someday? And then you prepare the recipe and it surpasses your expectations ten-fold? Yes, I am referring to this recipe.

It was a week or so ago and I was leafing through the Saturday LA Times - yes we still receive a real, live copy of our local newspaper's weekend editions. I suspect we are the last subscribers on earth and we really don't want or need the little bundle of printed news enshrined in plastic that I trip over each weekend as I make my way outside bright and early to walk the dogs. But every time we call to cancel, they beg us to stay and they keep reducing the price to embarrassing levels. This has been going on for years and I think by now they are paying us to continue receiving. But I have to admit, I do enjoy the Saturday edition - at least the lifestyle section - which is predominately dedicated to food and is a fabulous resource for new recipes. 

I am a pushover for anything Mediterranean so it is no wonder I chose to retain this recipe. Zucchini stuffed with a dressing of farro, onion, garlic, basil, red pepper, mushroom, pine nuts, crushed red pepper and feta. But what really makes the recipe shine is this: sauteing {and sauteing and sauteing and sauteing} the stuffing down into a completely dry state. This requires patience, plenty of stirring and a tempering of heat so as to not burn the vegetables. Then when white wine is added to the skillet it sizzles like mad and evaporates in a mili-second, creating a sweet, nearly caramelized stuffing. Finishing is easy. Simply complete the stuffing, spoon it into the hollowed-out zucchini shells, sprinkle with a little bit of extra feta and bake until the tops are bubbly and brown.. 

Although I am sharing the entire recipe below, I made 1/3 of the recipe as I am cooking for two and it turned out perfectly. So much so that it left us wanting more. Note to self: prepare the full recipe next time. 

Stuffed Zucchini With Farro, Red Pepper And Feta

1/4 c farro
olive oil
2 lbs + 1/4 lb zucchini
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and diced
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/4 lb mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/2 c white wine
1/4 c pine nuts
1/2 c crumbled feta, plus more for topping
1 c water

Cook farro in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a large gratin dish with olive oil.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and use a melon baller to hollow out the flesh, leaving about 1/4" flesh on the sides and a little more on the bottom. Transfer the pulp to a cutting board and roughly chop.

Season the insides of the hollowed-out zucchini with salt and steam until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Set zucchini in gratin dish to cool.

Heat 2 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and saute until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini pulp and basil and saute until dry. At this point, I turned the heat to half-way between medium and medium-low and stirred frequently for about 17 minutes.

When the vegetables are completely dry and reduced, increase the heat to high and add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the white wine and cook until it evaporates - this happened in a few seconds for me.

Remove from heat and let cool. Stir the farro, pine nuts and feta into the cooled vegetable mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon filling into the hollowed-out zucchini. Sprinkle the tops with a little extra feta. Pour the water into the baking side along the sides so it covers the bottom. Bake until tops are brown, about 20 minutes.

To serve, transfer to a platter and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

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Source: Adapted from The LA Times 

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