Zucchini boatloads of fun
We’ve devoured farm-fresh fruits and vegetables from A-Z these past months, but it seems like we’ve been stuck on the letter “Z” for quite some time.
“Z” as in zucchini. Fat ones, skinny ones, green ones and lots of cheap ones.
For health-conscious parents, it’s a challenge to get vitamin-rich zucchini and other veggies that are so abundant right now into the picky eaters in the family.
Here’s a strategy that is bound to please their palettes. Let your kids help prepare “vegetable boats” filled with the taste of the food they love: pizza!
This yummy combination of Italian sausage, tomato sauce and cheese, when scooped into the halves and hollows of squash and peppers to resemble boats, will glide onto your kids plates and into their tummies for a healthy fall meal.
Stuffed Vegetable Boats
16 ounces mild or spicy Italian sausage
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green or red pepper
1 cup prepared tomato-based pasta sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
4 medium zucchini squash halved lengthwise (or substitute yellow squash)
1 large green or red pepper
Shredded fresh carrot and parsley for garnish (optional)
Cook the sausage in a medium frying pan until crumbled and lightly browned. Add the onion and chopped pepper. Continue to cook one minute until onions and pepper are soft.
Add the sauce and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Stir until heated through. Transfer into a bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
Let your child scoop out the insides of the squash halves with a melon baller or a small ice-cream scoop to form a cavity.
They’ll enjoy digging around and removing the seeds. Then make some “pepper pockets” by coring a pepper and cutting it into quarters, then in half again.
Let children spoon the sausage mixture into the cavities of the squash halves and into the pepper pockets. Set them on a cookie sheet or baking dish.
Bake in a 350-degree oven covered loosely with foil for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining mozzarella.
Return to oven uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
Serve with garnishes, if you wish. Or, add thin carrot sticks for oars for the little boats.
Serve with garlic sticks and a fruit salad on the side.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Donna Erickson is the author of several books about family activities and host of a public television series. See more at www.donnasday.com