Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 50 mins | Yields: 10 boats

Sausage-stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

medium zucchinis (about 8 ounces each)

1 lb. Maple Leaf sausage meat

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

small onion, finely chopped

clove garlic, minced

medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 cup (250 mL) panko (Japanese) bread crumbs or regular Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano

2 tbsp (30 mL) minced fresh basil, optional

salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 cup (180 mL) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Garnish: Fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (optional)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400° F.

Carefully cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, score the flesh of the zucchini with deep diagonal cuts, about half inch apart, being careful not to cut through the skin of the zucchini. Place the zucchini halves, flesh-side up, on a parchment–lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the zucchini halves in preheated oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes, until the flesh no longer looks spongy and you can easily scoop it out (you can use a fork to check).  Leave your oven on, as you will need it for the next step.

Let the zucchini cool for 10 minutes or until cool to the touch. Then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, being sure to leave the skin of the zucchini intact. Put the flesh into a sieve set over a bowl to drain any excess water. Set the zucchini skin aside on the parchment-lined baking sheet while you make your filling.

Heat a large, deep skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil to the skillet. Add onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage meat and the zucchini flesh and break apart with a wooden spoon.  Cook the filling until the sausage meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and herbs; stir to combine. Taste your filling and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Carefully spoon the filling into the zucchini skins. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella evenly over the stuffed zucchini and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 6 minutes. Serve hot and garnished with freshly torn basil leaves, if desired.

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