Do you ever go out to the garden to find..................
.......that small zucchini you left for a day or two to get a little bigger, is now the size of a marrow? This seems to happen to me all the time and I found a big yellow one last weekend, the size of what I imagine to be a large caveman's club. I decided to prepare both a meat stuffing (moroccan mince) and a vegetarian stuffing (moroccan veges & cheese) to suit all dietary requirements in the house. The zucchini was sliced in half longways and the different stuffing put in each half, sprinkled with a bit of grated cheese, then baked for 30 minutes. They were both promptly scoffed and I received the 'Nigella Award' that evening. That meal also inspired me to write this blog.
These look fantastic but I have always been afraid that I will compromise my zucchini harvest, so I did some research.
It is the male flowers that are best used for eating as a stuffed flower. These are distinguishable as they grow on a thin stem, whereas the female flowers will develop a fruit. Cut leaving a 1cm stem on the flower. It is best to harvest the flowers at midday as they are very delicate and do not keep longer than a few hours in the fridge, so pick them as close to preparing as possible.
They can be eaten raw or fried or battered and taste faintly of zucchini. The stuffing needs to be something that does not require much cooking if any at all eg. cheese based, pre-cooked mince, grated vegetables as the stuffed flowers are only cooked for a short time.
Who can resist tomatoes harvested from your garden, with that intense flavour that is hard to find in the supermarket (especially when they have been refrigerated). You can stuff them without cooking and my favourites are guacamole, cooked savoury rice or herbed cottage cheese.
If you want to intensify the flavour, bake them in the oven with the stuffing of your choice.
It can be a little more of a challenge to hollow out onions but using a melon-baller as your scoop works really well. Try and leave 2-3 layers if you want to keep them round. Another option is to fill the individual layers as shown in the bottom right picture.
You will find a lot of eggplant in European cuisine and the flesh is great for soaking up the flavours of your stuffing. All the different shapes lend themselves nicely to stuffing and using long strips as a wrap is also an option.
This is a popular vegetable used in Asian cuisine. We sell a lot of seed for the two different varieties we stock being Bitter Greenlife and Sharp Bite.
Are you a big chilli fan? I suppose these are a little more fiddly but they are definitely worth trying. They are always a talking point if you serve them up on an antipasto platter or as a tapa.
I am unsure why we quite often have whole cabbage lurking about in the fridge that has been overlooked but this is definitely a good use of the whole thing before it goes too soft to use. A few different ideas being wraps, layers or whole. I think the savoy cabbages look great with their textured look.
AND THE REST....
There are all the others such as pumpkin, squash, marrow, capsicums, melons. They all make great vessels for your tasty stuffings.
Hopefully these pictures have given you some inspiration and ideas about all the different ways of using your lovely vegetables, including some you hadn't considered stuffing before. Favourite stuffings tend to be based on mince, chopped cooked chicken, bacon, mushrooms, lentils, corn, cheese. Sauces combined with your ingredients will seep into the flesh for a great taste sensation. Finishing touches can be sprinkling with crushed nuts, breadcrumbs, cheese or not at all. Try anything that takes your fancy as the options are endless and its a great way to use lots of those herbs in your garden too.
We would love to hear about your favourite combos, your experiments and in particular any pictures you have. Go on, give it a go.