Sometimes being scrappy is better than being prepared

Heat dulls the mind. As fast as it activates growth in plants and insects, it slows the pulse of man and beast. As the barometer rises, blood drains from creativity. This can be a problem as hunger mounts his horse through the valley of our beings. Because what should be a simple question, “what’s for dinner,” comes back with no answer.

Stuffed zucchini with rye toast points, goat cheese and spring onions

Stuffed zucchini with rye toast points, goat cheese and spring onions

Suddenly that delicious recipe loses it’s charm. The menu from down the street pales. And spark of culinary inspiration is but a faded memory.

The cure is simple. It’s about one thing. Designing a maze from which to escape. Its about jumping into a milk jug handcuffed like Harry. It’s about picking the least likely card in the game and forming a strategy around it.

If you live near the Hill Country of Texas, you know that Fredericksburg, TX is known for peaches and farm stands. They like their tomatoes and their squash.  And on this particular afternoon, the local market features it’s yellow zucchini.

Virtually the same as the deep green variety. Zebra stripes down the length of the vegetable. Yet vibrant yellow like a lemon. A color so bright, it draws a smile.

basic ingredients

basic ingredients

Tonight, let’s roast these golden treats from the garden. Let’s stuff them full of cheese and breadcrumbs. And lets do all of this without a plan in mind.

Tonight we present stuffed yellow zucchini with rye breadcrumbs, lavender goat cheese and spring onions.

Why those ingredients? Leftovers. Remember that we are holding our breath in a locked milk jug surrounded by water and tightened by padlocks. This is a trap of our own design.

The critical step is to find three basic ingredients outside of zucchini. Some aromatic vegetable. Some bread-like substance. Some cheese.

In this house, the answer back from the pantry is rye toast points. Quarter sized slices of bread that the manufacturer toasted so well they violate the sound ordinance after 10pm. Once the perfect underbelly for a salmon appetizer, now a abandoned misfit behind the bag of tortilla chips and box of granola.

Next is the spring onion. It happened to shout just loud enough as the shopping basket passed by. Spring onions are a confused vegetable. Long green stalks suggest that it prefers the lounge elegance of scallions. Yet the bulb flexes it’s a bicep just enough to stand out on the beach. A hint of a relationship to the more significant white onion.

The third anchor to the stuffing is lavender goat cheese. Actually another shard from a dinner party of recent past. Hiding in the deli drawer next to a smidgen of fresh Pecorino cheese and a near empty container of shredded Parmesan.

hollowed into a boat

hollowed into a boat

Onto the counter they all go.

First step: hollow the zucchini. Slice the vegetable in half lengthwise. With a tablespoon, scoop out the fleshy interior. Attempt to remove most of the seedlings. But don’t obsess. Chop the flesh loosely.

Slice the spring onion. One spring onion for two medium size zucchini.

stuffing before tossing

stuffing before tossing

Into a sautee pan  goes the onions and loosely chopped zucchini centers. Cook on medium heat until the onion turns translucent. Remove from heat.

Take 1/2 cup of super crunchy breadcrumbs. In the case of harvesting toast points, loosely chop with a chef’s knife. You are welcome to use a mini chopper. However, this is not about creating a fine meal of crumbs. Add to the sautee pan.

stuffing before it gets to the sheel

stuffing before it gets to the sheel

Add whatever cheese is available. In this version, we took one heaping tablespoon of lavender goat cheese from Cypress Grove and a near equal amount of soft sheepsmilk cheese. Fresh Pecorino. The 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan founds its way into the pan as well.

Incorporate with a spatula. The residual heat from the onion / zucchini mix will melt the goat cheese. This is not important. What doesn’t melt here will do so in the oven.

stuffed zucchini before the oven

stuffed zucchini before the oven

Season the empty zucchini boats with salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the boats.

Place boats on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Season with freshly grated black pepper.  Into a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

Remove when a golden brown crust appears.

Enjoy with a crisp white wine. Maybe a slice of ciabatta drizzled with olive oil.

And for Pete’s sake, breath. You’ve escaped the milk jug.


  1. jeff pzynski

    Great article. I hate the “what’s for dinner” nights. You seem to have better leftover items than we do though. Pantry surfing tonight!

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