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

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