They’re a healthy size 8.

So that should give you some idea of how monstrous this garden zucchini is:

zucchini and shoe

For sheer size and heft, it impressed even the little boy.

“That is one bad-a&% zucchini,” he said. “What are you going to do with it?”

Good question. Overgrown summer squash tends toward tough and fibrous. Those in the know tell you to compost it.

But tossing a perfectly good (and insanely huge) vegetable seemed incredibly wasteful. Instead, I decided to stuff it:

zucchini stuffed

I roasted the monster, scooped out the stringy innards, then filled the trenches with shallots, Italian sausage, herbs and tomatoes. Another run in the oven ensured the squash was tender and sweet, with a bronzed topping of shredded Italian cheeses.

We ploughed through the dish, with just a couple of slices left over.

Our stomachs aren’t too petite, either.

Monster Stuffed Zucchini

zucchini cookedMost zucchinis don’t measure over a foot or carry the heft that ours did. You can make this dish with four medium-sized specimens. Just adjust the roasting time (suggestions are given in parenthesis) and add the scooped-out flesh to your stuffing. Speaking of stuffing: Play around all you like. I happened to have some Italian sausage left over from a client’s dinner, but you can easily turn this into an all-veg affair.

  • 1 very large zucchini
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped (a scant 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup assorted herbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 6 tablespoons shredded Italian cheese

 Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the ends off the zucchini, then split it in half vertically. Place the two halves on a greased, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper:

zucchini split

Roast the zucchini for 30 minutes (15-20 minutes for regular-sized specimens).

While the zucchini is roasting, place a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and put the pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and season with salt and pepper.

When the shallot is tender, add the Italian sausage. Cook until all the pink is gone. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots and sausage to a large bowl. Cool slightly, then add the tomatoes, herbs and panko. Mix well. If the mixture seems a little wet, add a tablespoon or more panko.

Test the zucchini with a fork to make sure the center is nice and tender. Remove it from the oven. Using an ice cream scoop (or tablespoon), scoop out the center flesh and seeds:

zucchini scooped

Discard the flesh if you’re working with a huge zucchini. (If not, chop it and saute it briefly in the oil left over from your shallots and sausage, then add it to the sausage-tomato-herb mixture.)

Drizzle the trenches with olive oil, the sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon the sausage mixture into the zucchini. Sprinkle evenly with the shredded Italian cheese.

Place the stuffed zucchinis back into the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes (10 if you’re using normal vegetables). When the zucchini is fork-tender all over, remove it from the oven. Cool for 5 minutes, then serve in big slices. This satisfies four ample appetites.

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