Stuffed Vegetables (version II)

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Breadcrumb Stuffing
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Rice Stuffing
1/2 cup long-grain rice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped italian parsley, leaves only
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Breadcrumb Stuffing:
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and stir until blended.

Makes about 1 cup

Rice and Cheese Stuffing:
Cook the rice in a generous amount of boiling salted water until tender but still firm in the center, about 14 minutes. Drain.

Blend the rice while still warm with the remaining ingredients.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Vegetables for Stuffing:
All the stuffed vegetable suggestions serve four as a first course or side dish. All the vegetables can be prepared and stuffed and refrigerated up to a day before the final baking. Remove the vegetables from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking

Tomatoes:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Core 4 medium tomatoes (about 2 lbs.) Cut in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds. Bake the tomatoes cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet for 15 minutes.

Rice Stuffing:
Remove the center pulp (leaving enough of the tomato shell intact to support it later during baking) and blend with the rice stuffing. Fill the tomato shells with stuffing. Drizzle a little stock or milk on top, return to the oven and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Breadcrumb Stuffing:
Sprinkle the breadcrumb stuffing over the baked tomato half. Return to the oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are crisp, about 15 minutes. The tomatoes will be fragile, so handle carefully. Serve with roasted meats, especially lamb.

Zucchini:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut 4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds) in half lengthwise, score the flesh and bake cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet until tender, about 20 minutes. Scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/4-inch attached to the skin. Chop the pulp.

Rice Stuffing:
Mix the chopped pulp with the rice stuffing and fill the shells. Drizzle with a little broth or milk to moisten; bake until the filling is heated through, about 20 minutes.

Breadcrumb Stuffing:
Mix the chopped zucchini with 3/4 of the breadcrumb stuffing. Fill the shells and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumb mixture. Return to the oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are crisp, about 20 minutes.

Eggplant:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Choose 4 small (sometimes called Italian) eggplants, about 3 ounces each. Cut them in half lengthwise through the stem. Score the flesh and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Place the halves cut side down on a plate and let the bitter juices drain off, about 30 minutes. Rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry and bake in a well-oiled baking pan cut side down until tender, about 30 minutes. Scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/4-inch attached to the shell. Chop the pulp fine. Use either rice or breadcrumb stuffing, following directions for zucchini (above).



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