Oh So Easy, Stuffed Zucchini

or a "hands on" approach to summer squash season

Getting vegetables into our meals isn't always easy.  You can only steam or roast them so many times before you are just sick and tired of the same thing, and the family starts to murmur of potential revolts and runs to the local burger joint.  So, to keep things a bit more lively and maintain a minimal effort I started combining meal components.  In short, yes - this recipe is a result of meal time laziness.  But, be honest now, aren't we all a little lazy at meal time once in a while? Or a few times a week... But that's not the point, what I'm getting at is this - I finally have a stuffed zucchini recipe my husband likes!  And it is relatively healthy to boot!  Double win, with a bonus of meal simplicity.  

This is quick and easy to throw together and works just as well for a casual meal main dish (just cut in half width-wise and pick up to eat) as a side to a more elaborate sit down event (cut in half width-wise into thirds and estimate 2 per adult serving). I even diced everything up and reheated the leftovers for lunch to satisfactory success, at this point you could even toss it in a pocket pita for a handheld meal.  So many options..  Just check it out:

3 medium whole zucchini
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/4 cut sliced leeks
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz low fat or fat free cream cheese, softened
Parmesan cheese, reduced fat
Italian breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 F

1. Brown the meat in a large pan. Once cooked, drain and season with paprika and salt.

2. Add the cream cheese to the bottom of a medium sized bowl and pour the drained meat over top. The cream cheese will start to melt into the meat from the existing heat while you cook the leeks.

3. Add the olive oil to the pan and heat. Saute the leeks and garlic until they start to crisp slightly and caramelize. Then drain and stir into the mixture in the bowl. Continue to stir the contents until it has an even consistency throughout, you may need to throw it back in the drained pan to add some more heat if using full fat cream cheese.

4. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh, leaving about ¼ - ½ inch wall around the outside. Lightly salt the zucchini halves and fill with equal amounts of the stuffing mixture.  Top each with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and Italian breadcrumbs.

5. Bake for about 20 min or until the zucchini is fork tender.

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