Is it a stuffed zucchini? I'm not sure what to call this vertical creation, but that's what I was thinking about when I started making dinner - stuffed zucchini. The kind we're all familiar with that's sliced lengthwise, seeded, and overflowing with our favorite stuffing.
But while looking at the zucchini I had just picked, I noticed some larger ones and my mind starting working.
And before I new it, this dish was created.
How it was done
This dish works best with a wider zucchini to get a sturdy base. But, if you can't find one, slice a regular size zucchini on a diagonal to create a large enough base to build on.
Start by cooking rice according to instructions on the package. I used a 1 cup of rice portion.
While the rice is simmering . . .
. . . slice zucchini somewhere between 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. Sprinkle a little extra virgin olive oil on a baking sheet, lay out zucchini slices and sprinkle them with a little more extra virgin olive oil. Season lightly with pepper. Roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven and slice size.
Check zucchini after 15 minutes or so. I don't like mushy zucchini so I tested for firmness and continued roasting a few more minutes until I was happy with the results. Remove from oven and set aside.
Back to the rice
When the rice is almost done, mix in 1 can of drained cannellini or navy beans, heat through until water is absorbed (can also be added when rice is completely done - wild rice seems to take longer to absorb water so I got impatient!). Then add about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese (or your favorite kind). I used Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and I thought it tasted wonderful!
I pressed the cheesy rice mixture into a small casserole dish and when cooled down a little, I used a round cookie cutter to get the shape. But, to make it simpler, the rice mixture could be scooped right out of the pan with an ice-cream scoop and placed on top of the zucchini that way.
The tomato coulis can be made in a food processor while the zucchini and rice are cooking. I used my small food processor for convenience.
Chop one tomato. It's the perfect time to make this with fresh garden tomatoes coming in along with the zucchini. Add tomato pieces to the food processor, a small shallot and 1 large basil leaf like I used, or 2 medium, or 3 small. Salt and pepper to taste. Garlic would have been great but I didn't have any. Other herbs would be nice also, like oregano and/or parsley.
Set rice mixture aside. Don't refrigerate - I think it dulls the tomato flavor. The zucchini and rice can be made ahead but I think making the tomato coulis before serving will produce the freshest flavor.
Medium rare inside = perfect!
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My daughter made her own creation one night with some of the zucchini medallions and coulis - she added leftover salsa, Parmesan cheese, and torn bread! And the rice mixture was a side dish with lunch one day. The last bit was lunch by itself another day.