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GREEKISH STUFFED ZUCCHINI BOATS

Ingredients

1 very large (12-15”) or 2 medium size zucchinis (8-10”)

3 slices bread

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

8-ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 teaspoons Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup orzo pasta, cooked al dente to package directions

1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped

¾-pound ground lamb

¾-pound ground beef (80/20)

1-pound feta cheese brick, crumbled

1-pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Instructions

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil (the water should be deep enough to cover the length of the zucchini).  Slice zucchini(s) in half lengthwise and immerse in the boiling water.  Let cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size.  Remove from water and let cool, cut-side-down, on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Tear the bread into small pieces and put it in the bottom of a large bowl.  Pour the milk over the bread stir until it is absorbed.

When the zucchini is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out the pulp from each zucchini half, leaving enough inside so the shell keeps its shape.  Drain the pulp and press with paper towels to remove most of the moisture.  Chop pulp into bite size pieces and place in the bowl with the milk and bread mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the moisture from the mushrooms has absorbed and they begin to lightly brown.  Add the red pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt, ½ teaspoon of the black pepper, and the Italian seasoning to the pan and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Add the eggs, Worcestershire, Dijon, orzo, breadcrumbs, parsley, and oregano to the bowl and mix everything together until well combined.  Add the mushroom mixture and again stir to combine.

Add the lamb and ground beef to the bowl and massage everything together with your hands until well combined.  Fold in half of the feta cheese, taking care not to leave the feta pieces in tact as much as possible.

Press paper towels into each zucchini shell to absorb any excess moisture.  Place them, cut-side-up on a foil-lined baking sheet and season with remaining salt and pepper.  Split the stuffing mixture into 2 or 4 parts, depending on the number of zucchinis you’ve used and evenly distribute each portion into one of the halves, pressing and shaping it in the shell.  Top with the remaining crumbled feta and then press tomato halves, cut-side-down, into the top of each, in and around the feta.

Bake for 40-50 minutes depending on the size of your zucchinis until cooked through and about 145 degrees in the center.  Garnish with more parsley and chow down.

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