Zucchini is one of those wonderful summer squashes that can be used in numerous ways. Want something sweet? Just shred a zucchini or two and mixed it with eggs, flour, and sugar it transforms into a sweet quick bread. Looking for a crunchy healthy snack? Cut it into sticks, whip up a batch of hummus and dig in. Or they can be hollowed out and stuffed full of savory ingredients and be the star of a dish rather than an accompaniment. Such is the case with this baked zucchini.
This particular zucchini dish uses the young tender zucchinis rather than the overgrown ones that are great to chop and add to a soup or shred to freeze for a dessert during the offseason. Just a little trim on each end and a quick scrape with a spoon to remove the seeds and they’re ready to be filled and popped into the oven.
For the filling, a single chouriço sausage is sautéed in olive oil with garlic until the edges turn crisp and the garlic is golden brown. Remember the leftover zucchini pulp? Just toss it into the pan to cook out the excess liquid and plump up the filling. Stir in some rich cream cheese and fresh herbs and you have a filling that’s hard to keep your hands out of!
The last component is the breadcrumbs. No need to buy the premade kind, instead make your own. Just grab a slice of bread and pop it into the toaster until golden brown, then crumble it up as much as possible to sprinkle on top of the stuffed zucchinis before sliding them into the oven to bake.
When the timer dings that it’s ready, you have a delicious, easy, and new zucchini dish that can be an entrée or an appetizer depending on how many people you choose to share it with!
Let’s get started!
Baked Zucchini Stuffed with Chouriço and Cream Cheese
- 2 zucchinis
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1-2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 chouriço sausage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup cream cheese
- 1 slice of bread
- 2-3 tablespoons shredded parmesan
Preheat oven to 400F.
Wash the zucchini well under cool water then place them on a cutting board. Trim both ends of each before cutting them down the middle lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a spoon but reserve them for the filling. Place the zucchini shells on a lined baking sheet.
Mince the garlic cloves. Remove the oregano leaves from the stems and mince them as well. Set them aside.
Lay the chouriço sausage on the cutting board and cut it down the middle lengthwise. Remove the outer skin and discard it. Dice the chouriço in to small pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and let it cook 1 minute. Add the diced chouriço to the pan and sauté 5-6 minutes or until the sausage has crisped slightly. Add the zucchini seeds to the pan and stir well to combine. Let it all cook 4-5 minutes or until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Turn off the heat.
Transfer the chouriço filling to a bowl and stir in the oregano and cream cheese
Toast the bread until browned. Put the toast in a plastic bag. Break it down into as many crumbs as possible by rolling a rolling pin over it. Remove the leftover unbroken bread and discard it.
Place the bread crumbs in a bowl with the shredded parmesan and mix together.
Spoon the chouriço filling into each zucchini shell and sprinkle the breadcrumb and parmesan mixture on top.
Place the zucchini into the oven to bake 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling has become more firm.
Remove the zucchini from the oven and allow it to cool 2-3 minutes before serving.
If chouriço is not available, use another cured sausage like Spanish chorizo (not Mexican chorizo) linguiça, salami, or Andouille. If those aren’t available a fresh sausage broken apart and browned could work but the texture and flavor would be completely different.
STEP ONE – PREPARE THE ZUCCHINI
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a reusable baking tray liner.
Clean the zucchini well before trimming each end and cutting it down the middle lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape down the middle and remove the seeds, but keep the seeds for the filling mixture.
Transfer the zucchini pieces to the baking tray.
STEP TWO – PREPARE THE GARLIC AND OREGANO
Cut the end off of the garlic cloves and peel them. Finely mince them on a cutting board. Run your fingers along the stems for the oregano to release them and discard the stems. Mince the oregano.
STEP THREE – PREPARE THE CHOURICO
Place the chouriço on the cutting board and cut down the middle with a sharp chef’s knife. Peel off the casing and discard it.
Cut the chouriço into small pieces.
STEP FOUR – COOK THE FILLING
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil on a burner on medium heat. Toss in the garlic and let it cook about 1 minute, or until starting to become fragrant, but with little color.
Next, add in the chouriço pieces and stir to combine. Let them cook 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the reserved zucchini scrapings to the pan and stir well to combine. Let it cook about 5 minutes more to cook out the excess liquid.
STEP FIVE – MIX THE FILLING
Once the chouriço mixture has finished cooking, transfer it to a bowl.
Stir in the cream cheese and oregano leaves until it makes a creamy mixture and set it aside.
STEP SIX – MAKE THE BREAD CRUMBS
Put a piece of bread into the toaster and let it toast until browned. Remove the toast and place it in a sealable plastic bag.
Using a rolling pin, roll and bang the toast into crumbs, discarding the leftover bread.
Put the crumbs into a bowl and mix it with the parmesan cheese.
STEP SEVEN – STUFF THE ZUCCHINI
Fill the zucchini with the chouriço and cream cheese mixture and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese on top.
STEP EIGHT – BAKE THE ZUCCHINI
Pop the zucchini into the oven and allow it to bake until browned on top and the zucchini is tender.
STEP NINE – COMPLETED STUFFED ZUCCHINI
Remove the zucchini from the oven and plate it.
This is such an easy recipe that it requires only a few kitchen skills and is great for the beginning cook to try. It’s also delicious as a main, appetizer, or midday snack any time you’re looking for something that fills you up without being overly heavy in the process.
What is your favorite way to use zucchini? Do you like to use it as the star of a dish, or as a way to enhance other dishes in a healthy way? Let us know!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.