Zucchini boats are a tasty, easy and healthy centerpiece at any summer meal. I've got the green squash on the brain as they're just peeking out in my garden. I'm enjoying the emerald beauties in a variety of ways, this preparation being my favorite...at least for now.
I've loved zucchini since I was a kid, and the summer certainly kicks off their abundant season. This past weekend, I was looking for a different way to serve them, deviating from my adored preparation of raw carpaccio–style shavings with lemon and olive oil or this iteration tossed with chickpeas, barley, mint and feta — the options are limitless!
I ended up settling on simplicity—often the best place to start with summer foods. I rounded up some odds and ends, plump green olives, a few mozzarella balls, fresh basil and grape tomatoes. I knew good things would come from these flavors, if I managed to keep things light and hardly touched. My instincts proved to be outstanding (love it when that happens!) and one of my favorite dinner dishes (and then leftover lunch!) was born.
Zucchini Boats with Mozzarella and Olives
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 to 8 as a side
2 medium–sized zucchinis
8 balls of fresh mozzarella cheese, halved (or about 1/2 cup of any cheese you have on hand)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
8 green olives, pitted and cut in half
Fresh basil, cut into slivers
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut zucchinis length–wise and scoop out about 1/2 inch of the very center squash. Your indentations will be small and it doesn't have to be precise, just enough so you can squish some cheese and olives in there. Drizzle the hollowed squash with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until squash gives a little to the touch.
Remove par-baked zucchini and dot with halved grape tomatoes, halved mozzarella, and sliced olives. Just do your best to get as many of these items onto the zucchini as possible. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle fresh basil slivers and bread crumbs over the top. Don't be shy here. Drizzle a little more olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
Increase the oven heat to 450°F and cook for another 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan half way. When bread crumbs are golden and cheese is melted, the zucchini boats are done.
• Related: Grilled Grape Tomato and Zucchini Salad
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)