An Italian Recipe in a New Orleans Cookbook?
This sounds like a typical Italian recipe—with the sausage, Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, and other Italian ingredients—but I found it in a New Orleans cookbook. From reading this cookbook, however, I've learned that New Orleans cuisine borrows from a number of different nationalities, including French, Spanish, West African, and Native American.
Cajun cuisine is based on French and local ingredients. But this dish shows an Italian influence. As soon as I saw the title of the recipe, I knew I had to make it, even though I enjoy a number of other cuisines, as well.
Every week, I make a "recipe of the week," which I have my family rate. This recipe got three stars for excellent. I made it for supper for my husband and me, and we ate the whole thing. Also, it was good for our low-carbohydrate diet. He doesn't love everything, but he did love this. I think it was the sausage that put it over the top.
- 4 small or 2 medium zucchini
- 1/2 pound pork sausage, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons parsley, dried
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs, French or Italian
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, dried and crumbled
- 1/8 teaspoon thyme, dried
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
Rather than following the original recipe to the letter, I made several substitutions:
- Instead of French bread crumbs, I used Italian bread crumbs.
- Instead of 5 tablespoons of melted butter in the stuffing, I used only 2 tablespoons (I thought the stuffing was moist enough and did not need the extra fat).
- I did not use the 1/16 teaspoon of cayenne pepper because my husband doesn't tolerate that spice well.
- I used 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of the 1 clove of fresh garlic called for in the original recipe.
If you would like to try the recipe as it was originally written, you can reverse the substitutions I made. I always say you can make a recipe your own.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash, dry, and trim off the ends of the zucchini; then cut in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the pulp with a teaspoon, leaving the outer skin and about 1/8 inch of flesh intact for stuffing.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan and add the zucchini pulp. Cook slowly over low-medium heat until quite soft and wilted.
- While the pulp is cooking, fry the ground sausage in a small skillet until it is cooked through and just turning brown.
- Drain off all excess fat and add the sausage to the zucchini pulp in the saute pan. Turn the heat to low. Add the salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream, parsley, bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, rosemary, thyme, and garlic powder. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Fill the zucchini boats with the cooked mixture, distributing it evenly. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cheese and the 3 tablespoons of heavy cream on top.
- Pour the chicken stock into the pan around the zucchini, taking care not to wet the stuffing.
- Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the zucchini are tender when pierced with a fork and the filling is golden brown on top.
- Remove the zucchini carefully with a large slotted spoon or spatula, allowing the liquid to drain back into the pan. Enjoy!
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© 2020 Rachel L Alba