A while back we saw a French cooking show on which the host prepared zucchini ‘boats’ — courgettes farcies — stuffed with ricotta and parmesan cheese, along with pine nuts (pignons de pin). We had a good crop of zukes this summer, so we made those, and they were delicious.
Zucchini boats stuffed with ricotta, parmesan, and pine nuts
The zucchini kept coming and we were having a hard time keeping up... isn't that the eternal story of growing summer squash? You almost always end up harvesting many more than you know what to do with. We had a surplus, as we had a cucumber surplus too.
I had an idea for a variation on the ricotta/parmesan stuffing for squash. What about goat cheese? Here we are in the Loire Valley, where some of the best goat cheeses in the world are produced: Selles-sur-Cher, Valençay, Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, and more.
Our local Intermarché has a whole refrigerated case full of locally made goat cheeses at all stages of ripeness and in all sorts of shapes. The cheeses go from spreadable, cream-cheese-like chèvre frais, to slightly riper and more crumbly chèvre demi-sec, and all the way to nearly rock-hard dry, aged chèvre sec (with « Je suis sec ! » stamped on the label).
Here's my goat cheese and walnut version of the stuffed zucchini, ready for the oven.
I figured a soft fresh goat cheese could stand in for Italian ricotta, and a hard dry goat cheese, grated, could stand in for grated parmesan. The soft cheese gives consistency and background flavor, and the hard cheese gives a stronger but pleasant up-front flavor to the stuffing. Instead of pine nuts, we decided to use walnuts, and rather than mix them in we studded the top of each stuffed courgette with them.
Here's the recipe I based the goat-cheese stuffed zucchini boats on:
Zucchini ‘boats’ with cheese stuffing
3 large summer squash
250 g ricotta or fresh goat cheese
1 medium onion
80 g parmesan or hard goat cheese, grated
Toasted pine nuts or walnuts to taste
Salt to taste
Olive or walnut oil for the baking dish
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350ºF.
Wash the squash and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the center of each squash half to make 'boats' out of them. Chop the scooped-out flesh and dice the onion. Sauté that mixture on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes to evaporate some of the moisture in the vegetables.
Toast the pine nuts or chopped walnuts if you're going to mix them into the stuffing. If you plan to put them on top, they will toast in the oven as the stuffed zucchini cook.
Mash the soft cheese and mix in the grated hard cheese. Add the egg and mix well. When the sauteed onion and squash flesh has cooled down, mix it into the cheese stuffing.
Fill each zucchini boat with the cheese stuffing. Film a baking pan with olive or walnut oil, and drizzle some over the top of each stuffed boat. Put the dish in the oven for 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve hot.