CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Spanish Rice Stuffed Zucchini

Most gardeners love large vegetables. So do the people who are the recipients of extra veggies from gardening friends whose bounty is beyond expectations.

But there is an exception: large zucchini.

Over my 40-plus years of gardening, I’ve never had any trouble giving away vegetables from my garden. That’s unless the vegetable is a humongous zucchini. (And in the case of one of my friends and a former co-worker, it’s any zucchini.)

But fear not, there is an answer for those monstrosities — and perhaps even the medium-sized ones — besides zucchini bread.

The other day while relaxing in the therapeutic pool at Altru’s rehabilitation facility, a trucker from Grand Forks — I didn’t get his name — talked about how he missed having a garden, especially those giant zucchinis that he liked to stuff with Spanish rice.

That got me to thinking about — and looking for — a favorite Spanish rice recipe that I used to make years ago. It was from one of the late Dom DeLuise’s cookbooks we have. The rice recipe contained a green or bell pepper as well as mushrooms, onion, garlic, celery and tomato juice.

Together with the zucchini that’s abundant in my garden this year, I have the makings for a good-looking entree. That’s unless you’re Chuck Haga.

Spanish Rice Stuffed Zucchini
1 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise with seeds removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
8 mushrooms, sliced
1 cup rice
4 cups tomato juice
½ cup Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Add oil to a medium frying pan. Cook garlic, pepper, onion, celery and mushrooms over medium heat until garlic is lightly browned and onions are translucent. Mix in rice and tomato juice. Place rice mixture inside both halves of zucchini. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Place zucchini “boats” back in the oven, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until golden brown on top. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

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