A walk Through the September Countryside, and Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini

NEWS! [ita/eng]
Il mio blog per il Corriere Cucina‘Dall’Orto’, é online! C’é ancora tanto da sistemare, ma andate a dare un’occhiata e lasciate un commento o un parere. Sono felicissima di poter condividere la bella cucina mediterraneo-incontra-vegetariano anche con l’Italia. Speriamo di costruire qualcosa di bellissimo, insieme a tutti i lettori!
In questo articolo troverete le zucchine ripiene, mentre sul Corriere, i peperoni. 

My blog for the italian national paper, Corriere della Sera, is out! There’s still plenty of stuff to fix, but do give it a look if you feel like it. I am happy I can share some healthy, mediterranean vegetarian recipes with Italy, as well. Below you will find the recipe for stuffed zucchini, while at this link you’ll find the recipe for the stuffed peppers – in english, just scroll down. Thank you so much for your support, and let me know what you think! Let’s keep on building something beautiful!

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All my recipes would not be what they are without the help of my amazing mom, Marisa. While my friend Paolo, a talented photographer, helped me with some of the pictures.

The italian countryside, bathed in the light of September, is painted with the most beautiful colors of the year.

Every blade of grass, every olive tree, and every vineyard that decorate the hills is tinted a bright gold and orange, which marries the color of the leaves that are still green and the blue sky, which is finally rid of the late summer haze. A sense of peace irradiates from the beautiful light of September sunsets, which shines off the 1000 year old buildings I am surrounded by, shrouding everything in paradisiac gold.

In this stunning light, even our Bella Vita Sundays seem even more enjoyable than usual.

Mornings start off quiet, albeit with an early wake. It is a time for people to enjoy some slow cooking, to play with kids, to go for long strolls in the fields or in old villages.
The unmissable date with a cappuccino, though, is almost never skipped by anyone. We start off by sitting at a café along the walls of the castle of Gradara, my small, quaint, yet stunning medieval hometown.

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

Some people, especially groups of elderly women clad in foulards around their heads, crowd churches for the weekly sunday mass.
Then, everybody is off to a good lunch, whether it is in their own homes with the meals they spent their Sunday morning preparing, or at one of the many restaurants, or osterie, that can be found in any village of Italy.

The afternoons are spent outdoors, or strolling in the old cities. People browse shops, enjoy some gelato, or – again, sit at cafés. The weather is still warm enough to bike to parks and around town, and laughter rises from the heavy stone walls as people sit with some prosecco or spritz for their evening aperitivo.

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

 

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

All the animals in the farm are extremely delighted, as well. Me, my dog Penny, and my cat Tony went for a walk through the fields (Yes, you heard that right, the cat likes to tag along too). I wore rubber boots, and took for the olive fields, which were still wet from the rain of the day before. A group of kittens that saw the light in a corner of the backyard, have now made friends with everybody in the family. They can be a bit pesky, but absolutely adorable.

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

 

The Light of September: A walk through the Italian countryside

It has been a bit of an unfortunate season in terms of weather, but the produce in this period is just gorgeous: sweet, delicious, and shrouded in that special feeling that all the fruit of this month are only blessed with a few short weeks of life. The harvest of grapes, albeit a little later than usual, is about to start. I cannot wait to go visit those who will make wine in a week or two, gather some fresh, juicy black grapes, and put together another classic recipe to share with you all.

In the meantime, let us take advantage of the last produce of the season – peppers and zucchini, which were plentiful in the garden this year, and cook them for a delicious sunday meal. I love all vegetables, but amongst the many ways to prepare them, nothing satisfies me like stuffing them. they are quick, versatile and delicious. I will have a vegan version next time, but for this batch of vegetables, get the freshest ricotta you can find, mix it with your favorite seasoned cheese if you don’t have access to Grana, and enjoy. Whether it is sunday or not.

There is a recipe for the peppers, with a short article about some thoughts on starting off with a vegetarian diet, on the Corriere’s blog. Below there’s a very similar stuffing, but with zucchini! Please check out both and let me know what you think. I personally prefer the peppers, but the zucchini are also very good, and very suitable for a cold aperitivo.

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini

 

See the Pepper version here.

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini with Pistachio Topping
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves 4-6
Author:
Recipe type: Main, Vegetables
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • For the filling:
  • 150g fresh Ricotta, or a mix of robiola and ricotta
  • 2 tbsps Grana, or other seasoned cheese, like pecorino
  • The inside of the cooked zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • 8 - 10 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp thyme, if you like it
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • A grating of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp turmeric, or curry powder
  • ½ tsp Paprika
  • Salt & pepper
  • EXTRA: some pesto, to mix in the filling
  • For the zucchini:
  • 4 small zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • A couple tablespoons of fine breadcrumbs (just skip this or use cornmeal instead for a GF version)
  • A couple tablespoons of very finely chopped pistachios
  • Some extra grated seasoned cheese to sprinkle on top
  • Extra but recommended: Oil from dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar glaze, to serve
Instructions
  1. Start by cutting the zucchini in half and steaming them. They will need to cook until quite tender, about 15 minutes. Scrape the seed part off, and add it to a bowl. Don't scrape too much, we want the zucchini to act like little boats for the filling. Lay them on a baking tray lined with a piece of oiled baking paper. Lightly oil each zucchini half with the dried tomato olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. If you're not using the dried tomato oil, just sprinkle with some flavorful extra virgin olive oil.
  2. To make the filling, add the ricotta to the bowl with the inside of the zucchini and mash well with a fork. Add all the other ingredients but leave the egg last, so you can taste the mixture and add more spices to your liking.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 C˚ / 355 F˚.
  4. Stuff each zucchini half with the mixture. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and the pistachios, and some extra cheese if you like, and top with another drizzle of dried tomato oil or extra virgin olive oil. Bake the zucchini for 10 minutes, or until they start to get golden brown on top. You can finish them off under the broiler for a minute, for some extra crispiness.
  5. They are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, but they make a lovely cold meal, as well.

How do you spend your fall Sundays? And what do your Sundays usually look like? I’d love to know, so please share!

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini

  1. I enjoy your blog, thanks for sharing your recipes with us. I just got home last week from 6 weeks in apts in Chianti, Scritto, and Isola d ‘Asti. We loved it!!!!!
    I would like to be able to print your recipes, but don’t know how, Is it possible for you to change your format so that we can do it? Thanks…how about stuffed zucchini flowers>>>>>>>same cheese inside?

    • Hi Mary Ann!
      You’re the second person who asks about printable recipe. I swear I’ll look into that super soon and make everything printable. It should be an easy implementation for my website, thanks for suggesting it! You know, it is still a bit strange for me to think that someone would actually want to print these.

      As for the zucchini flowers, this filling is absolutely perfect for them! Ricotta filling is a classic. To cook them, it is maybe better to do it in the oven. Oil a baking tray very well, arrange the flowers, drizzle a little oil on top as well, and sprinkle some cheese too if you like. Bake at 350 Fº for about 10 minutes.

  2. This is intriguing as a possible pickup for a Generosi-Tea I’m having for a visiting author of women’s fiction. I’ve learned to make my own ricotta which is fabulous and surprising in its simplicity. I look forward to working with the recipe. I called your blog out as a favorite on my newest pasty blog recently. Hope you’ll check it out!

  3. I am in love! This blog post is so beautiful, the photos are amazing, the food… ah the food, great recipe and you described so well and romantic Italian way of life and the magic of Autumn. Even if I now live in a beautiful place in the south of Turkey, I just want to pack my luggage and go live there! P.S. And you go for a walk with your dog AND a cat, how adorable is that!! :-)

    • Ahah yes, our evening walks tend to be a little crowded! :) I hope you’ll take advantage of your husband’s provenience and visit Italy soon! Any plans?

    • Normally we go to Rome to stay with his family and than 2-3 days somewhere for a trip just the two of us. We also go very often to Orvieto, it’s one of my favorite little towns that I have seen so far. But there is so much to explore and see in Italy and I just never have enough time for everything that I want to do! My dream is to take few months and travel all Italy, not big cities but those little ones and villages and farms…. and just take millions of photos, eat good food and taste good wine and be free and happy. Not a bad dream, right? ;-)

  4. aaaw the italian country side! I think you’re very lucky you have your own farm, it’s like a dream to many of us. And the kittens too, and the dog :) I love the recipe, once I improvised something very very similar I think I had used a dash of ground turkey. I am very curious to read the vegan version, because when it comes to veganism substituting cheese is the most difficult thing.
    p.s. as of tofu, this is a little funny, and related to one of your older posts, I have learned that women with hormonal problem, specially those with PCOS shouldn’t consume much soy. It recked me (after I thought I had completely healed) in a way that you can’t even imagine. Maybe because I had consumed a lot of soy beans and tofu in one week, but from that time I don’t dare get close to it! :D

    • Hi Saghar!
      You don’t think I’d use tofu for a vegan stuffing, do you? ;) ahah no way! I do like fresh tofu, but the tofu situation here in Italy is just sad. I prefer to leave soy products on their shelves, too. I read so much about soy, and everything I read was so confusing and contrasting, that my head spins just at the thought. Now that I know your experience, I have one more reason to not use it.

      And the farm, well, it’s a lot of work. None of what we have would be standing were it not for my mom and my relatives. They are amazing!

  5. Excellent post! And as always fantastic photos — you are very talented in your descriptions and your recipes are amazing. NOW! When we were in Italy the breakfasts were wonderful — but we couldn’t eat it all the time. After two weeks we were hankering for oatmeal, no less. :-) I think your mission to bring healthy food to more people is a worthwhile cause. I am all for it and support it 100%. I’ll enjoy reading your articles in Italian. Abbracci!

    • Hi Marisa!
      Yes, healthifying Italian breakfasts is one of my missions! On sundays, every now and then, I do like to go out for some coffee and maybe even a small pastry, but the fact that some people have breakfast like this everyday is just beyond me. Thank you for your precious support!

  6. Hi Valentina,

    I agree with marisastewart, your writing here is beautiful. Makes me want to come to Italia and explore all it has to offer.
    I also love how you stepped in front of the camera for this blog post :)
    Thanks for sharing.
    All the best
    Kimberly

  7. gorgeous photos! that first one made be gasp. great recipe! I was just talking to my mom last night about zucchini recipes and was lamenting the lack of inspiring stuffed zucchini recipes out there. problem. solved. I’m sharing this with her ASAP!

  8. My dog was also called Penny – a Dalmatian, bless her heart! I loved taking her for walks around the fields, it really made me ‘feel’ the beauty of late summer days even more… x

  9. I read your post in Corriere della sera, and I did want to make a comment there, but there is another login process and registration to that site, so was a liyttle put off. Gorgeous pictures come sempre and and interesting take on zucchini ripieni. I might leave out the tumeric and curry and go with the Italian elements, because I don’t like cross over food, but that’s just me!

  10. Pingback: September, my love | 5778NK