Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini with Feta, Basil, and Pine Nuts

by eat in my kitchen

Zucchini stuffed with Feta, Basil, and Pine Nuts

Soon I’ll be eating stuffed vegetables in the kitchens of many Maltese mamas and I know that I’ll never want to eat anything else again once I get into the groove. This dish is a cozy classic in Malta’s Mediterranean cuisine and I love it for its simplicity just as much as for its pure taste of summer. Ripe zucchini, bell pepper, and eggplant turn into juicy shells full of flavour to wrap scrumptious fillings of cheese, meat, seafood, or even more vegetables. Brunġiel mimli (Maltese for stuffed eggplant) is the most popular of them all – and the richest, stuffed with Bolognese – but there are endless possibilities to turn this recipe into a lighter summer treat.

In mid July we’ll be off to spend a few weeks with our family in the South and this will have a huge effect on our daily routine and on our cooking and eating habits. There will be far more fruits and vegetables on the table, they will taste much better than in the North, I will complain less about quality (or not at all), and the results that I stir up in the pots and pans in my Maltese mama’s kitchen will give me deep satisfaction. I love to cook in Jenny’s kitchen (on gas), with the best produce you can possibly ask for, fresh from my favourite farmer.

There’s always a pile of round and long zucchinis in the vegetable drawer, which I either slice up and sauté until al dente or scrape out and stuff – often with ricotta, the island’s most popular dairy product. To get into the mood, I came up with a recipe that uses a fragrant composition of dried-tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, and orange zest stirred into feta – instead of ricotta (I’ll eat so much of it while I’m in Malta that I should take it easy for now). It looked and tasted like a summer holiday and it was so easy to prepare that I’ll make it soon again.

Here’s one of my posts from last year, which always makes me want to go straight back to Malta (just in case you’re not in the mood for summer yet)!

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Zucchini stuffed with Feta, Basil, and Pine Nuts

Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini with Feta, Basil, and Pine Nuts

Serves 2

sun-dried tomatoes (preserved in salt) 3
pine nuts, toasted until golden, 40g / 1/2 cup
medium zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise, soft pulp scraped out, 2
olive oil
fine sea salt
ground pepper
feta 200g / 7 ounces
fresh basil, chopped, about 15g / a large handful, plus a few leaves for the topping
freshly grated orange zest 1 teaspoon
flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting).

In a small saucepan, bring the sun-dried tomatoes and a little water to the boil and cook for about 3 minutes or until soft. Rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper and chop finely.

Chop half the pine nuts with a large knife or in a food processor.

Spread the zucchini in a large baking dish (cut side up), brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl, mash the feta with a fork and add the chopped pine nuts, basil, dried-tomatoes, orange zest, and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix and mash until well combined and season with pepper to taste. Divide the feta mixture between the zucchini halves, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and a little flaky sea salt. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a little water and bake for about 45 minutes or until the zucchini feels soft when you prick it with a metal skewer. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.

It makes a great lunch or easy dinner, but you can also serve it at a summer picnic.

Zucchini stuffed with Feta, Basil, and Pine Nuts

 

Zucchini stuffed with Feta, Basil, and Pine Nuts

 

Zucchini stuffed with Feta, Basil, and Pine Nuts

 

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