Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe - Johnsonville Italian Sausage

Stuffed Zucchini


1 Over sized (preferably 12” x 4 ½”) cut into 3 ½’ rounds, OR
2 * Medium, round zucchini, cored
2 Links, Johnsonville Hot Italian sausage casing removed       
½ cup Chopped Japanese eggplant (optional)
½ Medium onion, diced
4 Button mushrooms, chopped
1T Olive oil
1 8oz can Tomato sauce
1 cup Cooked rice
3 cloves garlic, crushed & chopped
Italian Seasoning
1 cup Sargento Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Crosscut the butt end (the biggest end) of the zucchini into sections approximately 3 ½”, core out the center leaving ½” rim. Chop the portion removed and set aside.

Steam the zucchini shells in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes on high, making certain they are not overcooked. You will need to retain the integrity of the zucchini shell to hold the stuffing without collapsing. Immediately plunge them into an ice water bath to stop further cooking.

In a medium skillet, cook the sausage on med-high breaking the sausage into small chunks.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Using the same skillet, add the olive oil, the onions, garlic, ½ cup of the chopped zucchini, mushrooms and (optional) eggplant, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper to taste. Cook until the zucchini and onions are pale. Add the tomato sauce and any additional zucchini you feel will balance out the mix, cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Empty the ingredients of the skillet into the bowl containing the cooked sausage, blend into this mix the cooked rice, half the cheese and fold all the ingredients thoroughly to complete the stuffing mix. The heat of the stuffing mixture should be adequate to melt the cheese as it is being incorporated.


Place the empty zucchini shells in a casserole dish or suitable high-sided container. Fill the shells with the mixture, tamping down lightly to fill each shell to the top.  Place in the oven to cook for about 20-30 minutes. Open the oven door and check the temperature of the filling by simply touching the top and if it is warm, now is the time to add the remainder of the cheese to the top of the filling.  Return the casserole to the oven for an additional few minutes and closely observe how the cheese is melting. Caution should be taken to prevent the cheese from scorching.
When the zucchini is cooked to your satisfaction, remove from the oven, place on a rack and let rest for 4 or 5 minutes. Serve by removing the stuffed zucchini from the pan with the aid of a flat blade utensil.

Serve with chunks of fresh baguette, green salad of hearts of romaine, slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato.
Serves 2.
• Round zucchini can often be found in an Asian market or markets such as Whole Foods as well as some Farmers markets during the summer months. If you choose to use a round zucchini, cut off the top and core per recipe instructions keeping in mind to have a flat bottom to maintain balance after stuffing.

*    This filling mix is also great as stuffing for bell peppers.

As always, thank you for visiting.

Clark Williams,

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mexican Pizza Recipe

An amazing burst of flavors and textures, this adaptation from a restaurant favorite of ours in the 80’s is easy and can be customized to suit your tastes. Most of our cooking is done with a pinch of this and a dash of that so as you follow along, feel free to put your personal touches on this great dish. (don’t count on leftovers)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

We use Mama Mary’s thin crust found in your grocery store or online. This makes life so wonderful and easy but if you are a baker and enjoy the task of making your dough from scratch, please come for dinner next Friday night and bring a batch! Seriously, this Mama Mary’s par baked crust is such a no brainer that we have started experimenting on the grill and they hold up very well.

Pre bake your pizza crust just until heated and the exterior begins to toast, please take heed that they over bake very easily. Remove and begin topping the pizzas. This particular crust is best right on the oven rack but other brands or your own homemade may require a pizza or sheet pan.

If you wish to try this on the BBQ, preheat the BBQ to 400-450 degrees and then turn off all burners but one and turn down enough to maintain the temp – put the pizzas on the grate area with no lit burner (indirect heat) and use the BBQ like an oven. Watch your temps carefully as the BBQ tends to stay very hot and will easily burn your pizza very fast.

First layer: refried beans either pinto or black beans. I like to season them with some cumin and chipotle chili powder before spreading on the pizza crusts. Spread just like you would a pizza sauce and make sure you get a good base, not too thin, not to heavy.

Second layer: chopped grilled chicken or lean browned ground beef
Third layer: chopped sweet onion
Fourth layer: combo of shredded sharp cheddar and mozzarella
Fifth layer: finely chopped jalapenos (optional)

Bake the pie until the cheese starts to turn color and you get that beautiful golden crust. Use a pizza peel to remove the pizzas as they tend to be quite heavy.

Pop the pizzas on a cutting board and top generously with garden fresh chopped ripe tomatoes and chopped cilantro. Cut in to wedges and serve while hot. You may wish to top with sour cream or salsa but we like ours just the way it is.

Optional toppings: corn, chili flakes, chopped garlic, chopped zucchini, sweet red peppers, green peppers, hot chili peppers – use your imagination!

All the best,
Clark Williams